A new body-mapping study has revealed shoulder pain is one of the most persistent types of chronic pain. The study identified nine distinct types of chronic pain to aid in the diagnosis and treatment process for patients.
Here, we’ll look at what the new pain mapping study discovered, alongside common causes of shoulder pain.
What did the pain mapping study involve?
The new pain mapping study included a total of 21,500 people who had attended the severe pain management clinics at the University of Pittsburgh. A computer clustering analysis was carried out on patient body maps to determine patterns of pain distribution.
The results showed there were nine clear types of chronic pain a patient could experience. The researchers believe the identified patterns of pain distribution could help to predict pain impact, severity, physical function, and predicted outcomes.
So, what did it find in relation to those experiencing shoulder pain? Unfortunately, it wasn’t great news…
Patients with long-term shoulder pain saw the least improvement
More than 7,000 people involved in the study, went on to fill in a follow-up questionnaire. This was done three months after the body pain map.
Results showed that those who experienced abdominal pain went on to see the biggest improvement. However, those who experienced shoulder, neck, and lower back pain saw the least improvement.
Just 37% of those suffering from lower back, shoulder, and neck pain saw an improvement after three months. The researchers noticed that patients within this subgroup also had some of the same characteristics as those in the widespread pain groups. This could suggest that they are in the early stages of widespread, generalised, chronic pain.
A new long-term study into pain duration and stability within this group has now been recommended.
Common causes of shoulder pain
Shoulder pain is a very common problem that can vary greatly in severity. There are a lot of different causes of shoulder pain, with some proving to be more debilitating than others. Some of the most common causes of shoulder pain include:
- Rotator cuff tear
- Frozen shoulder
Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of ongoing shoulder pain. It causes the cartilage within the joint to break down over time. This in turn leads to a lot of pain and stiffness within the shoulder.
Rotator cuff tears are also common, and they can also develop over time. As the tendon within the shoulder wears down gradually, the pain will start to develop. You can experience partial or full tears, and they tend to be most common in those aged over 50.
Each different cause of shoulder pain will require a different treatment plan. Therefore, if you are suffering from chronic shoulder pain, it is important to seek a diagnosis. Once the cause has been established, an effective treatment plan can be created.