Treating Shoulder Pain
Shoulder injuries are common among individuals of all ages and walks of life. While some shoulder injuries and conditions will require a surgical procedure to correct function and mobility, the vast majority of injuries can be treated with nonsurgical alternatives. The first step in diagnosing your shoulder condition, is to make an appointment with an orthopedic shoulder surgeon so that the location and reason for your shoulder pain can be diagnosed. The longer your shoulder pain continues, the chances for a fast and effective recovery decrease. Some variables that will affect the type of treatment prescribed include the type of injury, significance of injury, and the length of time in which symptoms have been present.
Dallas orthopedic shoulder surgeon, Dr. Brody Flanagin, offers the latest advancements in shoulder treatment, and in many cases, he is able to treat and heal a shoulder injury using conservative measures rather than surgery. During a thorough exam, Dr. Flanagin will properly diagnose the condition and make his recommendation based on his overall assessment.
Surgery Vs. Nonsurgical
During a routine exam, we can usually determine if an injury will indicate surgery or not. In many cases, if a low-grade fracture, strain, sprain, or tear exists, nonsurgical treatment will usually be recommended first. Patients with arthritis can also benefit from the nonsurgical remedies recommended by our office. Surgery is usually reserved for cases where the shoulder has suffered extreme trauma, enough to completely break the bone through the skin, advanced arthritis, complete tears of the tendons and ligaments, etc. Sometimes, an MRI will be ordered to ensure a thorough diagnosis before surgery.
"Very professional, listens to questions/concerns, provides logical answers and concise information on medical issue(s), a no nonsense yet personable physician with a dry wit and integrity. He will not rush to surgery unless warranted. And, will not order a bunch of unnecessary tests. I highly recommend Dr Flanagan."- L. / Healthgrades / Oct 19, 2017
"Dr Flanagin is a 10 star! - too bad the scale only goes to 5."- D.S. / Google / May 18, 2018
"Holy gerd. Cannot say enough positive things about this dr. He is the guy you go to when others mess up - hes that good. My husband had a biceps tendon tear an it takes 6 months to a year to recover. He was back in action in 11 weeks! - wonderful staff and wonderful surgeon. Could not reccomend him more highly."- C.K. / Google / Mar 29, 2018
"Amazing Doc! No-nonsense, straight-forward, knows his stuff, and clearly committed to his patients. Siprina, the x-ray tech, was great as well. Very pleasant and explains "what to do" in a manner even a country boy like me could understand. Thanks to Siprina."- D. / Healthgrades / May 18, 2018
"Dr. Flanagin was timely, thorough, conservative, and thoughtful. The overall office operation is one of the best I've experienced."- R. / Healthgrades / Feb 01, 2018
One of the most important aspects of healing a hurt shoulder is rest. This is usually accomplished by wearing a sling to help keep the arm stable and immobilized. It is important for patients to get plenty of rest and avoid doing activities that will create any movement in the arm, as well as keep the body's temperature moderate to help control inflammation.
Ice and Heat
It is common to apply both ice and heat to a shoulder injury. This helps reduce inflammation and swelling, as well as pain. Alternating between both heat and cold temporarily prevents further aggravation of the shoulder injury or condition. Probably more crucial, is the cold. This is because ice reduces inflammation through a process known as vasoconstriction, which minimizes the flow of blood and lymph fluids to the area. We recommend patients keep their arm elevated on a pillow while resting. Ice packs can be placed on the injured area in 20-minute timed intervals for the first few days following the injury. For patients with known shoulder pain, such as those with arthritis, applying cold compression to the shoulder can help decrease pain. Cycling the cold with heat will then help promote blood flow back to the area where the pain and swelling reside.
Anti-inflammatory medications can help tremendously in easing pain and discomfort during the healing process. Medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen are common for assisting with inflammation, pain, and soreness, and in some cases, oral antibiotics may also be prescribed. Some patients will also benefit by having a steroid (cortisone) shot directly into the injured area on the shoulder. This provides great relief for patients and can last several months as the patient works diligently to rehab their shoulder back to health.
Exercise and Stretching
Stretching is important during a shoulder recovery. Rehabbing the shoulder joint to regain mobility and strength, and to decrease overall stiffness, can be assisted with moderate to light, slow and gentle stretches. Stretching does not have to occur every day, but it is recommended every couple of days to keep the arm from developing stiffness and/or frozen shoulder. In addition, using light weights can help improve strength and increase the blood flow to the rotator cuff area.
Physical therapy may be prescribed to assist in your shoulder injury and recovery. Our recommended physical therapists are highly-trained and skilled to work with patients to strengthen the joint and regain complete shoulder function. During physical therapy, exercises will be taught that you can also perform at home, and our team will work with you incorporating new moves so that all areas of the shoulder are impacted. Physical therapy can be an important step in overcoming your injury.
Nonsurgical treatment will be most successful if the patient is diligent in adhering to the prescribed protocol. Patients who are proactive with their treatment generally see good results within a couple of weeks. While there is no set time-frame as to when a shoulder injury will recover, most patients find that pain is much less and their mobility and function returns in about 6-8 weeks.
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Our orthopedic practice offers a full spectrum of nonsurgical treatments to heal shoulder pain and achieve a full recovery. Not only will we take the time to properly diagnose your shoulder condition, but we will work with you to achieve the goal of becoming pain-free in the most conservative way possible, before turning towards a surgical procedure. For patients requiring surgery, we offer leading, cutting-edge shoulder surgery options. We look forward to working with you and getting you back on the road to recovery.