Steps to alleviating shoulder and elbow pain

Courtesy photo. (UTMB Galveston)

Living with pain isn’t fun, and it isn’t something you should just brush off.

If you’re experiencing severe shoulder or elbow pain, there are several nonsurgical treatments available as well as surgical techniques with a successful track record.

Dr. Jeremy Somerson, UTMB Health orthopedic surgeon specializing in shoulder and elbow surgery, sees patients of all ages, with rotator cuff issues making up the largest part of his practice. His training has equipped him to treat a wide range of shoulder and elbow issues.

Shoulder pain

People who experience shoulder pain so severe that they cannot sleep, focus on their daily routine or enjoy everyday activities may be prescribed steroids, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy before considering a shoulder replacement, or arthroplasty.

“Just like in other joints, it’s something that develops over time,” Somerson said. “It could be folks who have had a problem when they were younger or had a shoulder dislocation or had a rotator cuff problem, but it could also just be that they have a disposition to arthritis.”

Chronic elbow pain

Patients as young as their 30s may seek treatment for chronic elbow pain — sometimes called tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow. Most issues aren’t actually sports-related, but due to the repetitive arm motion employed in many jobs, like painting, home remodeling, hair cutting and house cleaning.

Most of the time over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs can help ease the pain and swelling. Using an ice pack on the area for up to 20 minutes at a time throughout the day may also help.

“Most of the time it gets better on its own. Less than 5% of people I see with tennis elbow end up having a procedure. Most people within six months will be better,” Somerson says.

Visit this website if you are experiencing shoulder or elbow pain and want to learn more about treatment options.