Shoulder Pain and Injuries
Chronic shoulder pain that disrupts your sleep or limits your ability to perform daily activities should not be ignored. Likewise, sports-related shoulder injuries need prompt, effective treatment to get you back in the game. Duke shoulder surgeons in Cary, Raleigh, Durham, and Wake Forest use conservative treatments, physical therapy, and minimally invasive surgery when necessary to reduce your pain and improve your function.
Why Does Your Shoulder Hurt?
Shoulder injuries and chronic shoulder pain are common among people ages 50 and older, as well as in younger athletes whose sports involve overhead reaching and throwing. In general, shoulder injuries and pain are caused by:
- Sudden, traumatic injuries, like fractures, tears, and dislocations that may occur during sports or recreational activities
- Arthritis and bone spurs, which develop over years of repetitive wear on the shoulder joint
- Overuse of the shoulder joint, leading to:
- Swollen tendons
- Bursitis -- inflammation of the bursa, the sac that cushions the joint
- Shoulder impingement -- when the top of the shoulder rubs painfully against underlying tissues
- Frozen shoulder, a thickening or tightening of the capsule of connective tissue that holds the shoulder together, which can occur:
- When illness or surgery keeps you from moving your arm for an extended time
- In response to minor trauma
- In the absence of trauma, particularly in women and people with diabetes
- Immobility, which can result in or be caused by frozen shoulder
When to Seek Care for Your Shoulder Injury
A severe shoulder injury, such as a fracture or other trauma, requires immediate medical care and may need to be evaluated in the emergency room.
- You can make an appointment within 24 hours at many of our locations. Depending on availability, you may be seen by a shoulder specialist the same day you call for an appointment.
- You can get immediate care at Duke’s Orthopaedic Urgent Care. We provide orthopaedic-specific care at two convenient locations seven days a week. You'll have the convenience of fast service with no unnecessary exposure to sick people.
Conservative Treatments for Shoulder Injuries
Your doctor will use a variety of tests, including X-ray, MRI, and ultrasound imaging when needed to evaluate your shoulder injury and determine the best course of treatment.
- Conservative treatments are often our first recommendation. Bracing, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, cortisone injections, and physical therapy may reduce your pain and help you regain your function. Our team includes specially trained orthopaedic physician assistants and nurse practitioners who work together to optimize your care.
- Physical therapy is often part of your shoulder treatment. Many of our physical therapists on staff specialize in shoulder injuries. They focus on exercises that strengthen your shoulder muscles, lessen pain, restore movement, and reduce your chance of re-injury. Our physical therapists can also tailor exercises to help you return to -- and possibly improve -- your sports performance.
If You Need Shoulder Surgery
Shoulder surgery may be recommended if you continue to have shoulder pain following conservative treatments, or if you are an athlete with high functional demands on your shoulder and want to return to your sport.
- Our orthopaedic surgeons have completed advanced, fellowship training in shoulder surgery and, as a team, perform thousands of shoulder arthroscopies every year. Their minimally invasive approach uses small incisions and a lighted camera to diagnose and treat shoulder pain and injuries. Our surgeons use advanced surgical procedures that may improve your outcome and lower your risk for complications.
- We are often able to perform outpatient surgery with regional anesthesia so you can recover comfortably at home and return to your normal activities faster.
- Our expertise performing shoulder replacement surgery, also known as shoulder joint arthroplasty, draws people with shoulder injuries from around the country, including people who have had failed shoulder replacement surgery elsewhere.