Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

My 77-year old mother is going to have therapy for shoulder pain from a fall she took at home. The X-ray showed it wasn't broken, but there's a lot of arthritis in the joint. Can therapy really help someone like this?

Answer:

It may seem like older patients are less likely to have a good result with treatment for this type of problem. Degenerative changes in the joint are common. Bone spurs, tendon tears, uneven cartilage are only a few things that can add to the problem.

Studies show many older adults with major changes in the shoulder joint don't have any pain or loss of function. Symptom-free rotator cuff tears have been shown in half of all adults over the age of 60.

A new study from Australia showed that more than half of all older adults with shoulder pain responded well to conservative treatment. These good results were still present six months after the treatment ended.

Give therapy a try and see what kind of results your mother gets in the first month. Look for a gradual improvement of symptoms and increased function. If there's no improvement, then the doctor may need to take a second look.

Karen A. Ginn, PhD, and Milton L. Cohen, MD. Conservative Treatment for Shoulder Pain: Prognostic Indicators of Outcome. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. August 2004. Vol. 85. No. 8. Pp. 1231-1235.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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