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Test Your Shoulder Pain Knowledge

The shoulder is the most movable joint in the human body.

The correct answer is true. Tendons are a type of tissue that connect muscle to bone. A group of four tendons in the shoulder, called the rotator cuff, give the shoulder a wide range of motion.

Rotator cuff problems are the most common cause of shoulder pain.

The correct answer is true. Swelling, damage, or bone changes around the rotator cuff can cause shoulder pain. You may have pain when lifting the arm above your head or moving it forward or behind your back. Arthritis and bone spurs can also cause shoulder pain.

Which of the following can cause rotator cuff problems?

The correct answer is all of the above. Poor posture over many years and normal wear and tear related to age may also lead to rotator cuff problems. Sometimes self-care can treat shoulder pain. If you injure your shoulder from a sudden fall, talk with your doctor.

Symptoms of rotator cuff problems include:

The correct answer is all of the above. Your shoulder can feel stiff when you try to lift with your arm or move your shoulder. It may become harder to place your arm behind your back. Most people with rotator cuff tendon tears have pain at night. If you notice that shoulder pain makes you want to avoid using your arm, call your doctor.

If you have shoulder pain from rotator cuff problems, self-care involves using:

The correct answer is B and D. Ice and ibuprofen or naproxen help reduce pain and swelling. Acetaminophen treats pain, but won't reduce swelling. Apply ice packs 20 minutes at a time, 3 - 4 times a day. Avoid activities that cause pain. Call your doctor if symptoms don't get better. A steroid injection in your shoulder may help.

Changing your posture can help relieve shoulder pain.

The correct answer is true. Your posture during the day and night can help relieve some of your shoulder pain. Sleep on your back or the side that is not painful. Putting pillows under your shoulder may help. When sitting, keep your shoulders back, place a rolled towel or pillow behind your lower back, and keep your feet flat on the floor or on a low stool.

Other ways to ease the strain on your shoulder include:

The correct answer is A, B, and C. Consider making some changes around your home so it is easier for you to take care of yourself. Store everyday items you use in places you can reach easily. Keep things with you that you use a lot, like your phone.

Physical therapy can help treat shoulder pain.

The correct answer is true. Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist (PT) to treat shoulder pain. After testing and examining you, your PT will know which muscles are too weak or too tight. You will then start a program to stretch out your muscles and make them stronger.

If you have a rotator cuff tear, you will need surgery.

The correct answer is false. Rest and exercise may help someone with a partial rotator cuff tear who does not normally put a lot of demand on the shoulder. You may need surgery to repair the tendon if the rotator cuff has a complete tear, or if the symptoms continue after trying other types of treatment.

Sudden shoulder pain can be a sign of a heart attack.

The correct answer is true. Call 911 if you have sudden pressure or crushing pain in your shoulder, especially if the pain runs from your chest, jaw, or neck, or occurs with shortness of breath, dizziness, or sweating.

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