If you have shoulder pain that has not been diagnosed yet, you may believe that the source of your discomfort is related to overuse, injury, or poor posture. There are, however, a few unusual things that may cause or even worsen existing should pain that are unrelated to injuries, muscle strain, or poor posture. Here are three uncommon reasons for shoulder pain and what you can do about them:
Acid reflux, especially long-standing or poorly managed acid reflux can cause severe chest pain, wheezing, esophageal spasms, and in some cases, referred shoulder pain. Referred pain means that the source of pain originates in one area of the body but then radiates to another part.
If you develop shoulder pain in conjunction with heartburn, constant throat clearing, dry cough, wheezing, or feel as though there is a lump in your throat, which is known as a globus sensation, you might have acid reflux disease. If you suspect that you have reflux, there are a few things you can do for relief.
Avoid acidic foods such as tomatoes and oranges, maintain a healthy weight, limit your consumption of coffee and alcoholic beverages, don't smoke, and try to manage your stress levels. Taking over-the-counter, acid-blocking medications or antacids may also help, but these should not be used long-term.
If you have a dental abscess, it means that you have an infected tooth, usually a molar. While abscesses typical cause toothache, gum swelling, and sometimes a bad taste in the mouth, they can also cause muscular and neurological problems in areas other than the mouth. For example, an abscessed upper molar can cause inflammation of your facial nerves.
This can cause tingling and pain in your cheek and chin areas which may radiate down to your shoulder. If you think you may have an abscessed tooth, see your dentist. The sooner treatment begins, the less likely you are to experience secondary symptoms such as neurological deficits or shoulder pain.
If you have seasonal allergies, or if you are allergic to certain foods, soaps, dyes, or pets, you may also experience shoulder pain. In addition to symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, and nasal congestion, allergies can also trigger a systemic inflammatory response.
This is because when you have an allergic reaction, your body releases chemical known as pro-inflammatory cytokines. When these are released into your bloodstream, inflammation of your joints and muscles may occur, resulting in shoulder pain. To decrease allergic symptoms and to reduce the risk of an inflammatory response, keep your doors and windows closed when pollen, mold, and ragweed counts are high, use soaps and detergents that are dye- and fragrance-free, and take an over-the-counter antihistamine.
If you have any of the above conditions, see your physician or dentist. If your pain still persists, your health care provider may refer you to a shoulder surgeon for further evaluation and treatment. The sooner the source of your shoulder pain is revealed, the sooner an effective treatment plan can be implemented.
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