Shoulder pain can result from a variety of conditions. This includes dislocations, rotator cuff injuries and fractures. Causes can also include bursitis, tendinitis and degenerative diseases such as arthritis. Injuries or strains to muscles or connective tissues around the shoulder joint can also lead to pain that ranges from mild to severe. Depending on the cause, patients with shoulder pain can also have swelling and loss of motion. This can make it hard to raise your arm or to reach across your body with one hand, which can severely impact everyday tasks. As a result, shoulder conditions can be very debilitating - and should not be ignored. The specialists in Blackrock Health can treat patients with many kinds of shoulder problems.
Blackrock Health offer a range of non-surgical and surgical options for shoulder pain at our three hospitals. Our experts work together to try and diagnose, treat or manage acute and chronic conditions that affect the shoulder. We aim to identify the underlying causes of your shoulder pain by performing tests and exams - then recommending tailored treatments.
Blackrock Health is home to some of the most established private orthopaedic faculties in Ireland. We can carry out minimally invasive surgeries in hi-tech facilities across all our hospitals. We offer comprehensive musculoskeletal care, with dedicated inpatient orthopaedic and spinal wards. If you have day-case surgery, our team will care for you on our comfortable day wards.
We offer the full range of orthopaedics, including consultation, diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare. Our orthopaedic consultants are internationally recognised and conduct thousands of procedures every year. Our hospitals have expert multi-disciplinary teams - including clinical nurse specialists and physiotherapists. And we use the latest technology, from robot surgery to spinal navigation techniques and real-time imaging.
Blackrock Clinic is also one of the first private hospitals in Ireland to use the Irish National Orthopaedic Register (INOR). This is a national database informing on orthopaedic surgeries and outcomes in Ireland. The aim of this register is to improve patient outcomes. Both the Hermitage Clinic and Galway Clinic are expected to enrol with INOR in 2023.
You can access our services quickly and easily with a referral from your GP and can then enjoy world-class clinical care and comfort. Over 75% of our rooms are single occupancy - to help you make a quicker recovery in a safe environment. We aim to provide you with best possible outcome, and to restore your quality of life.
How can shoulder pain be treated?
As with most orthopaedic conditions, treatment ranges from rest to physiotherapy - and sometimes to surgery.
Treatments that physios provide or prescribe typically aim to build strength and restore motion. They can also work towards correcting patient posture to help reduce muscle strain. Finally, physiotherapy can offer a wide range of therapeutic treatments. Some may be performed by your physio, but most will be carried out by the patient in their own time based on a personalised plan drawn up by the physio. These could include:
- Exercises for flexibility
- Massage for pain relief
- Underwater exercise for stretching and strengthening
- Ultrasound therapy for inflammation
- Heat/cold therapy for stiffness
What are some conditions that cause shoulder pain or restricted movement?
This condition is also known as adhesive capsulitis. When this occurs, the shoulder capsule - the covering of a joint that connects the arm bone to the shoulder blade - becomes tight and inflamed. The stiffening of this capsule may cause severe pain and make normal activities like reaching up or behind very difficult. Treatment for frozen shoulder includes physiotherapy and stretching exercises at home. It can also include anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and pain or heat treatments to relax muscles. Finally, corticosteroid injections can sometimes be prescribed for relief from inflammation. In more severe cases, surgery may be recommended by a surgeon to treat the joint capsule.
Rotator cuff injury
Rotator cuff injuries occur when the four rotator cuff muscles, located in the shoulder joint, are impaired. Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury often include pain and decreased range of motion in the affected area. Treatment for this injury typically consists of rest, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. Strengthening exercises can help relieve inflammation and prevent future injuries in the area. Finally, in some cases, arthroscopic surgery may be necessary to repair any damage.
Our Shoulder Specialists
Shoulder conditions are typically treated by an orthopaedic surgeon or a chartered physiotherapist. An orthopaedic surgeon can offer treatment for shoulder disorders - and perform surgery if needed. Physiotherapists treat shoulder problems with exercises that improve shoulder strength and motion..
Our Consultant Radiologists work closely with the Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons. Together, they aim to find a swift diagnosis and the very best treatment plan for all their patients. Here are some of the tests we can offer to help diagnose the cause of your shoulder pain.
An X-ray can be used to diagnose any structural changes in the tissues and bones in the shoulder, such as fractures or arthritis.
An ultrasound scan is used to check for signs of tendonitis, bursitis, or joint inflammation in the shoulder.
An MRI may be ordered to rule out other potential causes of shoulder pain like tumours or fractures that cannot be seen on an X-ray.
A CT scan allows doctors to see detailed images of structures within the body to help identify sources of pain. They can provide more information about underlying conditions like arthritis or ligament tears.
Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS) test:
This test measures nerve function. It allows doctors to determine whether there is nerve damage or compression that could contribute to shoulder pain.
This test measures muscle electrical activity along with nerve conduction. It is measured with electrodes inserted into muscles near the shoulder. This test can help detect any abnormalities that might be causing pain.
Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used for both diagnosis and treatment. In this procedure, a thin and flexible instrument with a light - called an arthroscope - is inserted into the joint. The procedure might be necessary for patients for several reasons. This could be for a torn rotator cuff or shoulder instability due to recurrent dislocations. This procedure can help treat arthritis or bone spurs, and can also remove loose bodies in the shoulder joint due to wear and tear. Finally, shoulder arthroscopy can treat adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder), tendonitis or bursitis. Arthroscopy may be done under general anaesthesia or sedation. Tiny incisions are made around the joint to insert the arthroscope. A fluid is then used to expand and fill the area so that the surgeon can see more clearly during surgery. A small camera attached to the arthroscope projects images of internal structures on a large video screen. This allows your surgeon to investigate any damage within your joint and usually diagnose any existing problems.
What kind of treatments and procedures can we offer to patients with shoulder pain?
If the pain comes on suddenly, rest is often the best medicine. For longer-lasting symptoms, there are a range of helpful treatments.
Physiotherapy is another useful treatment. Our physio team can provides strengthening exercises that are specific to your injury and its severity. These exercises will help strengthen muscles around the shoulder - and so reduce your pain levels.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin may also be prescribed. These will help reduce pain and inflammation in the shoulder.
Corticosteroid injections are also sometimes used. These are only considered if other medications and treatments have not succeeded in reducing your pain levels.
There are also supporting or secondary treatment options that may help relieve symptoms. These include ultrasound therapy, massage therapy, hot and cold therapy (such as heating pads), or acupuncture. We can discuss all options with you, depending on your individual needs.
Surgery can also be an option for more severe shoulder problems. This line of treatment is only pursued if other treatment options have not delivered the hoped-for results. Surgery can significantly improve ones quality of life, but it is an invasive procedure. This can be associated with potential risks and complications..
What can you expect after attending Blackrock Health with shoulder pain?
The underlying causes of shoulder pain can vary greatly and are often complex. While self-care and nonsurgical therapies can succeed at managing symptoms, some cases may need surgery. No matter which approach you choose, the best path to treating chronic shoulder pain is to get an accurate diagnosis. We can then give you comprehensive guidance from our team. With their expertise, we aim to reduce shoulder pain and optimise your mobility.
How do I get this?
You will need a referral letter from your GP or consultant before you make an appointment. If you already have a diagnosis and are seeking physiotherapy, you can contact us directly to make an appointment.
Is this insured?
Not all services are covered by health insurance. To find out if you're covered, please check your health insurance before your visit. You can do this on our health insurance cover check page, or by contacting your health insurer.
How do I pay?
If you do not have health insurance or your health plan does not cover the full cost, you will need to pay the balance due before your treatment or procedure. You may be able to claim back some fees on your insurance. To pay an excess not covered by your insurance or any other inpatient fees, please visit our payment page. If you have any queries about paying for your care, please contact the finance team in your hospital.