Avoiding shoulder pain at every age

23 July 2021

People from all walks of life experience shoulder pain, but it can become an increasingly pressing issue as you get older. Younger people predominantly acquire shoulder pain from injuries or accidents. For people who are aging, progressive wear and tear can develop into persistent problems. As the body changes, it’s common that recovery times from injuries increase and aches and pains worsen. This is particularly true if you are living an active lifestyle. Strenuous physical activity puts extra strain on your joints, tissues, and muscles. Simple actions such as reaching behind your head, brushing your hair, or hitting a ball can trigger sensations ranging from uncomfortable to excruciating.

Mr Soong Chua is a leading Melbourne shoulder specialist who has helped countless patients manage their shoulder health. Soong Chua sees over and over again that it’s crucial to take a proactive approach in maintaining healthy shoulders. This means actively working to prevent shoulder injuries from happening in the first place, and appropriately managing issues if they do arise. In this article, we run through some of the most common causes of shoulder pain and how they can adversely affect older people. We outline preventative strategies to mitigate against shoulder damage and discuss the options available if pain is ongoing.


Main causes of shoulder pain in older people

  • Shoulder arthritis: arthritis develops when cartilage cushioning the joint forces is damaged or worn down, causing ongoing pain. The prevalence of arthritis sharply increases in the demographic of 45 years and older.
  • Rotator cuff tear: one of the most common types of shoulder injuries occurs when the muscles attaching the upper arm bone to the shoulder blade tear or detach. Factors associated with aging such as diminished blood supply and chronic repetitive motion can exacerbate the risk of a rotator cuff tear.
  • Proximal biceps tendon tear: when overuse and wear cause a rupture in the bicep tendon. This commonly occurs in patients between 40-60, after regular lifetime usage of the bicep.
  • Frozen shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis): when the range of motion of the shoulder is severely limited by inflammation or tensing of the joint area. Statistically, this is also most likely to occur in the 40-60 age bracket, especially in patients with diabetes.


Prevention strategies

  • Maintaining healthy motion of the shoulder, especially while undertaking vigorous physical activity
  • Resting the shoulder when experiencing pain
  • Undertaking physical therapy to gradually improve range of motion through strengthening exercises
  • Taking over the counter painkillers
  • Steroid injections


Severe ongoing pain management

For some people experiencing chronic shoulder pain, more proactive treatment actions might be required. Depending on the condition, surgery may be suggested. Procedures such as shoulder arthroscopy are at the cutting edge of joint pain science; developments in technology means that they are minimally invasive and can radically address causes of pain with swift recovery time. Surgery can drastically improve the quality of life of older people with shoulder pain.


Mr Soong Chua, who has trained internationally as a specialist shoulder surgeon and is part of the elite OSV team, has extensive experience in shoulder pain management. If you have questions about whether you might need to consult a specialist about your shoulder  get in touch with his Melbourne-based team today.

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