Skip to content


    Attention All WebMD Community Members:

    These message boards are closed to posting. Please head on over to our new WebMD Message Boards to check out and participate in the great conversations taking place:

    Your new WebMD Message Boards are now open!

    Making the move is as easy as 1-2-3.

    1. Head over to this page:

    2. Choose the tag from the drop-down menu that clicks most with you (and add it to any posts you create so others can easily find and sort through posts)

    3. Start posting

    Have questions? Email us anytime at

    Includes Expert Content
    chronic shoulder pain
    whitegig1 posted:
    new to site any ideas? i have had nine shoulder surgery rotator cuff was just told both shoulders are torn but nothing left to operate on. is there a treatment available to permanently numb or kill the nerves? i have heard of this for backs but never shoulders. I am only 48 yrs old and cant see myself living with this constant pain the rest of my life.
    77grace responded:
    Hi There and Welcome.
    I too suffer from shoulder pain on the left side! Its alot more involved than just my shoulder but my whle shoulder blade and the trapeseist muscels hurt and are as hard as a rock!I have had neck surgery for my problems but have always had all this pain on my left side ,then it spreads to my whole back and neck!
    Anyway,I know we don't have the same issues I just thought i'd reply and let you know I understand the pain and frustration for a problem with no cure!
    God Speed,77grace
    annette030 responded:
    Welcome to the group. I am sorry, but I don't have an answer to your question.

    Do you have pain in both shoulders or just one?

    I have Fibromyalgia, disc disease in my neck, and migraines. I get along okay. I am a bit older than you at 62.

    The researchers will find answers to our pain, don't even think about living with it the rest of your life. Try and live more day to day. It makes it easier.

    Take care, Annette
    Peter Abaci, MD responded:
    Welcome to the site. The shoulder is the most complex joint in the body because of all of the different movements that it can perform. It is the only joint created by three different bones (clavicle, scapula, and humerus), and it relies on a number of different muscles to generate all of its various motions. Shoulder problems can really interfere with daily activities, and certainly can be a source of significant pain. But while you are dealing with a very challenging problem, especially if both shoulders are injured, I think there is still room to be optimistic about improvement because I have seen a lot patients make really significant progress in improving the pain and function of their shoulders.
    Peter Abaci, MD responded:
    I apologize! Somehow my response got submitted before I finished your discussion. To continue with your question, killing nerves is usually not the best way to treat chronic pain conditions. Nerves have a tendency to grow back or form neuromas, so even if it was successful, the pain could return in several months.

    Working on retraining the different muscle groups that stabilize your shoulders can go a long way in improving the pain, mobility, posture, and strength of your shoulders and arms. This can be a tricky business and it would be great if you could work with a rehabilitation specialist who really understands shoulders for an extended period of time. Interestingly, I just worked with a young gentleman who also had several surgeries on one of his shoulders and had limited movement of it with lots of pain. After several weeks of intense rehabilitation at my center, he is now off of pain medications for the first time in 10 years, can lift his arm overhead, and is doing pullups. While this approach may not work for each person's situation, I think it would be worth talking to your doctors about setting up a very thoughtful and comprehensive rehabilitation plan for you.
    whitegig1 replied to Peter Abaci, MD's response:
    Thank you for your response. I am currently in physical therapy 3 times a week. also receive massage and ultra sound. I will speak with my surgeon about rehab as soon as workers comp decides what they want to do. the hardest part is the last 12 years i have had a sling on either my right or left arm ,and now being told all that was for nothing and i will never be better. but thanks again
    Chadwarrior replied to whitegig1's response:
    whitegig1, you are not alone. Dr. Abaci, thank you for the glimmer of hope. I have endured 2 acromioplasty surgeries (1 year apart) the 2nd with a Mumford, all on my left shoulder. After the 2nd surgery (20% loss ROM then 50%) I was endured many different types of PT (each working for about 6 weeks before backsliding) until 1.5 years after my 2nd surgery. I refused to accept pain management as an alternative, as PM in my opinion was giving up.

    I am in college again to retrain; however, all my meds make concentrating difficult (gotta love multiple narc. Rx's for pain then another narc Rx for the narcolepsy?). My TENS (IM) helps and soon I will be blessed by the return of my Game Ready unit. I was a Drill Sergeant with the Army and wish I could be rid of all the Rx's (and machines) so I could be active again, I'm only 36 and way too young to be stopped by chronic pain. I hope the long arm of the net and WebMD can find me relief (none my 2nd, 3rd ... opinions show hope).

    Worse yet I have to fight comp for everything!
    bookcrazzzy responded:
    I broke my shoulder badly in a motorcycle accident in 1977, developed avascular necrosis and arthritis, had surgery in 96, partial replacement in 04 and full replacement in 2012. My soft tissues are "thin and in extremely poor condition" according to my surgeon and I have extensive scar tissue throughout the deltoid and rotator cuff muscles. I have had severe muscle spasms and pain since the early 90s and have tried a variety of treatments and therapies.

    What has been the single most helpful thing for me has been a hot tub although it must be a top of the line model because I have to have very powerful jets in a position to massage my shoulder area. Being able to use the hot tub, especially before bed, kept me functioning for years and has been an incredible help during recovery from my surgeries (getting in before doing my physical therapy).

    I will point out that a lot of the pain that seems to be joint pain can actually be from soft tissue. Since I have a full joint replacement, I can have NO pain from the joint since it has no nerves but I nevertheless have pain that certainly feels like it is from the joint. Getting the muscles to relax, though, provides a clear improvement in pain levels.

    I have also found long-lasting heat packs helpful as well as a TENS unit (up until I had partial joint replacement). A relatively new product (for me) that helps is Lidoderm pain patches.

    Improvement in posture, sleeping in a partially reclining position (and anything else that improves sleep) and other general pain management techniques like meditation, distraction and relaxation are also helpful long-term.

    I have other pain issues, including foot pain from structural birth defects (I am 54 yo). In my experience, you have to try and keep trying until you find the things that work for you. Doctors and therapists are certainly helpful but the fact is that there are so many variables in any given situation as complex as ours that they don't really know what your long-term prognosis will be. Even if you are told there is nothing more they can do for you, that doesn't mean that your pain will never get better. Pain is, after all, a perception as well as a signal down a nerve and that perception can be changed. Keep trying, learn about your own body and keep trying. Then keep trying some more.

    I wish you the best of luck.
    bookcrazzzy replied to bookcrazzzy's response:
    I forgot to mention - another thing that I find helpful in dealing with muscle spasms is simple, cheap and portable. It is a tennis ball in a knee-high athletic sock. You hang it over your shoulder holding onto the end of the sock so that the tennis ball is on your shoulder blade. You then lean against a wall and by pushing harder or softer and by moving around, you can give yourself a surprisingly effective massage. It helps if the wall surface is rough or you can use the hospital socks that have some rubber on them so that you get some traction. I never travel without one of these.

    Featuring Experts

    Peter Abaci, MD , is certified in anesthesia and pain management by the American Board of Anesthesiology. Dr. Abaci received his undergraduate educat...More

    Helpful Tips

    Judging people with or without chronic pain
    I try not to judge people by anything they do if they aren't hurting themselves or someone else. Unfortunately, I know that I've been judge ... More
    Was this Helpful?
    1 of 8 found this helpful

    Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

    FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.