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Shoulder Pain From Driving

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

Driving is something that most people have to do on a daily basis. Some enjoy going for leisurely Sunday drives, while others do it purely to get from point A to point B. Regardless of your reason for driving, it can become a very challenging endeavor when you are experiencing shoulder pain. Every turn of the wheel can almost become unbearable. Is there anything that can help?
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Our experts at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow understand the crucial role your shoulder plays in driving. We have helped many to diagnose and treat their injury. 

If you are experiencing shoulder pain, especially while driving, having one of our physicians examine your shoulder would be beneficial. We have offices located in Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia.

You may be wondering, “What is shoulder pain from driving?”, “What are the causes of shoulder pain?” and “How is it treated?” You can find the answers to these questions and more below. 

Shoulder Pain From Driving Explained

The pain that you are feeling may be resulting from a condition called shoulder impingement. When experiencing shoulder impingement, you may feel pain around your shoulder as you change the height of your arm by raising it up, above, or over your head. This radiating pain can make even the most simple tasks, such as driving, seem unbearable. 

Shoulder impingement is very common, especially among those who play sports that are considered ‘high-risk’ for impingement, including tennis and swimming. However, shoulder impingement can also affect those who are between the ages of 40 and 65. 

What Are the Symptoms of Shoulder Pain From Driving?

Knowing the symptoms of shoulder pain that can come from driving can be very beneficial in understanding this condition. These symptoms include:

  • Increased pain as you lift your arm above your head and while lowering your arm
  • Difficulty reaching behind your back
  • Discomfort and difficulty sleeping due to shoulder pain 
  • Muscle weakness while performing routine tasks
  • Restricted shoulder motion 
  • Discomfort that gradually develops into a constant feeling of pain on your upper outer arm, even while resting

 

Shoulder Pain From Driving Diagnosis

A qualified physician can properly diagnose your shoulder pain from driving. The diagnosis may reveal that you are experiencing shoulder impingement

To rule out any other possibilities, your physician will ask you to describe your symptoms and do a thorough evaluation of your shoulder. X-rays, an ultrasound, or an MRI may also be required to identify any structural changes within your shoulder.

Causes and Risk Factors of Shoulder Pain

Knowing the causes and risk factors that contribute to shoulder pain can help you avoid further damage.

Causes of Shoulder Pain:

  • Injury 
  • Overuse 
  • Our shoulder blades come in various shapes and sizes. If your subacromial space (the space between the top of your shoulder, the acromion, and your rotator cuff tendons) is narrower, this can lead to impingement. 
  • Age could be a factor as well. As we age, our bodies can develop bone spurs (bony growths that develop on the edge of our bone) which can lead to impingement. 

 

Risk Factors of Shoulder Pain:

  • Participating in sports that have a high impact on your shoulder 
  • Improper or abnormal posture that causes your shoulder blades to sit and move incorrectly
  • Lack of control and strength in your rotator cuff muscles 
  • Weak muscles located in other parts of your body that affect your core stability

 

What Are the Treatment Options for Shoulder Pain From Driving? 

At Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow, we offer many treatment options for the shoulder pain that results from driving. Depending on the severity of your pain, we will first use conservative treatment options to help alleviate your pain. These treatments include:

  • Modifying your activity
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories 
  • Physical therapy 
  • Subacromial cortisone injections for prolonged relief

 

If you are still experiencing pain after trying these treatment options, further measures may need to be considered. Your specialist may recommend shoulder arthroscopy. This minimally-invasive procedure relieves pain and restores your range of motion. After surgery, physical therapy can also aid in your healing process. 

Since driving is a significant part of life, the shoulder pain you are experiencing can make you heavily dependent on the assistance of others and reduce your independence. 

Our skilled shoulder specialists at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow look forward to alleviating your pain so that you can return to doing things on your own. Schedule an appointment at our Atlanta or Marietta, GA offices today!

Medically reviewed by

Bryan J. Sirmon, MD