Deltoid Pain When Lifting Arm
You’re picking up some boxes when you feel your right shoulder spasm. You’ve been working hard all day, so it’s not surprising that the last thing you want to do is go back home and work on paperwork. But if you don’t take care of the problem soon, you may end up with chronic pain in your shoulder. The most common cause of deltoid pain — painful inflammation of the muscle at the base of the arm bone (the scapula) — is overuse injury, which occurs when an individual uses a part of his body for long periods without resting.
Ankle sprains, wrist fractures, broken bones and even heart attacks can be excruciatingly painful, but they usually only require medical attention if there is swelling, redness or bruising. However, aching shoulders can become debilitating quickly because no one seems to know exactly what’s causing them. Shoulder pain can range from a dull ache to sharp stabbing pains that come and go unpredictably. If the pain lasts more than two days, see your doctor immediately [sources: Mayo Clinic; WebMD].
Shoulder pain often develops slowly, making it difficult to diagnose accurately. There are many different types of shoulder problems, ranging from impingement syndrome to dislocation. In fact, dislocations are actually among the rarest forms of shoulder disorders. Dislocations occur when the ball-and-socket joint between the humerus and the scapula separates completely. This type of separation can happen after trauma, infection, tumor growth or degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis.
In this article, we’ll explain how the shoulder works and examine several types of shoulder pain. We’ll also look at treatment options and how to prevent future occurrences.
What Is the Anatomy of the Shoulder?
Your shoulder consists of three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade) and the humerus (upper arm bone). At the center of the shoulder, the glenohumeral joint connects these bones together. This is where the rotator cuff attaches to the rim of the socket that houses the head of the humerus. The capsule surrounding the shoulder contains ligaments and tendons that attach the bursa sac to the greater tubercle and lesser tubercle of the humerus. These structures act as shock absorbers and help protect the shoulder against impact damage.
There are four main movements in the shoulder: flexion/extension, abduction/adduction, internal rotation and external rotation. Flexion refers to raising your arms overhead while extending your elbows. Abduction means moving your arms outward away from your torso. External rotation moves your arms out from your body toward your outer side. Internal rotation does just the opposite. Your shoulders should move smoothly and gently through each range of motion, and you shouldn’t experience any sudden jerks or twitches. It takes about five seconds for movement to begin and another five seconds for completion.
When you rotate your upper arm inward, you’re performing internal rotation. When you turn your upper arm outward, you’re doing external rotation.
Now let’s get down to brass tacks: What are the symptoms of shoulder pain? Read on to find out.
Shoulder pain is quite common. About 90 percent of people will experience some form of shoulder pain within a year, according to a study published by the American Medical Association. Men are twice as likely as women to develop shoulder pain, and those over age 40 are nearly six times more prone to suffer from the ailment than younger individuals.
Common Causes of Deltoid Pain
Painful inflammation of the deltoids can strike anyone, regardless of sex or age. Muscles that support the arm need rest and time to heal, but they must also be used frequently enough to gain strength and flexibility. As a result, overuse injuries are the leading cause of deltoid pain. Strains are also very common. They involve tears in the muscle fiber that irritate nerves. Because of its size, the deltoid has a higher vulnerability to tearing than other smaller muscles.
A person who lifts weights regularly is susceptible to shoulder pain caused by weightlifting. Muscle fibers tear easily under pressure, and the force needed to lift a weight depends upon the amount of resistance offered. With a lighter load, less muscle power is required. For example, a 200-pound man needs much more strength to lift a 50 pound box than he would to pick up 100 pounds. The same principle applies to the deltoids. The heavier the object, the more powerful contraction of the deltoid necessary to raise it. Many weightlifters perform exercises designed specifically to strengthen the deltoids. The bench press, squatting and deadlifts are particularly effective exercises.
Other sports activities that put stress on the shoulder include baseball pitching, swimming, tennis, golf, ice hockey and football. All of these sports demand forceful throwing, chopping, swinging motions that put tremendous amounts of torque into the joints. Overexertion during these activities can lead to injury. One way to avoid injury is to keep the arm close to the body and swing downward rather than upward. Another option is to wear a protective cup, which helps reduce the force transmitted to the elbow and shoulder.
If you think you have shoulder pain, consult a physician before attempting self-treatment. He or she can determine whether you have a minor issue that requires little intervention, or whether your condition warrants surgery.
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