Shoulder pain is quite common in our society and interesting enough the symptoms of shoulder pain remind me of a light switch.
Your symptoms are either “on” and you most likely experience pain in the shoulder with an inability to raise your arm in the air properly, or “off” with no shoulder pain and complete function to raise your arm any way that you choose.
In fact, one day you could be playing with your kids or playing a sport without any difficulty and hours later have no ability to lift your shoulder which is completely debilitating.
At PTN we handle the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of shoulder problems, and all of them are different. There are no two shoulder problems that are the same just like no two finger prints are the same.
We get a lot of questions asked like: “Why can’t I swing my golf club without shoulder pain anymore?.” “Why does it hurt to throw a baseball?”, “Do I need to stop lifting weights?”. ” Do I need surgery?” These are typical questions that we are asked every day.
In order to explore how to completely eliminate shoulder pain naturally without the need for medication and surgery, let’s take a look at the top 5 reasons that people develop shoulder pain.
#1) Rotator cuff weakness– A lot of problems begin with the lack of internal and external rotation strength. Basically, these are the muscles that hold the ball in the socket. When they get de-conditioned, they get weak and the ball doesn’t move around too much in the socket. This leads to the pinching of nerves and damage to tissue that is used to hold the shoulder in place.
There are a lot of people who exercise with a personal trainer who also come into one of our 4 orthopedic clinics. They continue to have shoulder problems and they will ask: “You know, I work my delts, I work my back. Why am I still getting shoulder pain?” “Is this something that is different than all the muscles that I normally work with my trainer?”
The answer is: Absolutely, yes! Basically, when you work out in the gym and you see a lot of people doing shrugs, overhead presses, even bench press but they still have shoulder pain that may seem to be getting worse and worse. The reason for this is the big global muscles in your shoulders are being strengthened but they can not do the job of the smaller muscles (rotator cuff) that lie deep beneath the bigger muscles. What we’re after here, especially in therapy, is to prevent pain and dysfunction through strengthening the stabilizer muscles and creating the proper movement of these little muscles, that lie underneath those big trophy looking muscles you have.
#2) Scapular instability– There are two flat large bones located on your back that aide in moving the shoulder upward and outwards. The muscles that control these bones may become weak and may overstretched. As they pull your shoulders forward and downward they put stress on the shoulder pinching off nerves and the rotator cuff muscles. So then every time you go and try to move your arm up and down, you get pain and pinching of these delicate structures.
#3) Posture -If you have poor posture you often find yourself in a position where your shoulders are rounded and forward. This would be expected if you’re sitting at a desk, hunched over a computer. When your shoulders are rolled forward this creates limited rage of motion for your shoulder when you’re lifting your arm up overhead. As you try to lift your arm up this way, some of your rotator cuff muscles get pinched between bone. When those muscles get pinched, they become very tight, inflamed and very irritated.
#4) Overuse syndrome-Definitely number four would be overuse, repetitive use. We have a lot of tennis players, young, old, all ages, all skill levels, really. A lot of baseball players. A lot of overhead athletes, and even swimmers perform the same motions over and over creating stress at the muscles and the shoulder joint leading to increased pain and discomfort.
It would be fair to say, that even if you are not immediately experiencing shoulder pain you may have some structures that are tight, and some that are loose, like in a swimmer with that forward rolled shoulder position. You may not have pain right away but when those muscles are imbalanced you are likely to develop an overuse injury. That is when it is too late and when pain symptoms begin.
#5) Cervical spine problems–Number five, believe it or not, actually isn’t coming from the shoulder at all. It’s really coming from your neck. Neck problems are probably, well definitely one of the biggest causes of shoulder problems that I see in the clinic. People will come in after a car accident, after a football injury or anything, even just sleeping wrong. They’ll start to have pain down their shoulder, into their arm muscles, or even down into their fingers. Although this pain is presenting as shoulder pain, it can be coming from nerve entrapment at the neck. So a detailed assessment of the neck has to be considered in an overall strategy of resolving shoulder pain.