Shoulder pain can be caused by many different structures within the shoulder. These range from muscles, to ligaments, to nerves and to the joints themselves. The shoulder is a very complicated joint and as a result: a lot of people will experience shoulder pain.
Shoulder pain is commonly seen in office workers, people who work in restaurants, supermarkets, building sites and also gardeners, plumbers, carpenters and decorators. Sports such as tennis, golf, basketball, hockey and table tennis also often present to clinic with injuries or aches regarding the shoulder region.
The shoulder is quite a loose joint allowing it to move in massive ranges of movement, however, this laxity makes the shoulder vulnerable to weakness. The shoulder joint is primarily held together by the rotator cuff tendons, ligaments of the shoulder, and a series of muscles extending across the shoulder joint.
If any of these muscles or ligaments are strained or over worked then an imbalance in the shoulder may arise. This imbalance is often what causes shoulder pain and can have a knock on effect into the way the spine moves, causing irritation or aching of the back.
Constant dull ache
Difficulty raising the arm to side or overhead
Sharp pain moving the arm above shoulder height
Weakness in the arm
Pins and needles or numbness in arm or hand
Grinding/clunking sensation in shoulder
Neck pain or upper-mid back pain
Shoulder pain can also be a result of heart, lung or liver related problems. This will become evident through the case history aspect of the consultation. If there is suspicion of this possibility, you will be referred to the GP for relevant testing.
Heart: strong pounding heartbeat, breathlessness, crushing chest pain
Lungs: wheezing, constant pains, breathlessness
Liver: itching, abdominal swelling, yellowing of the eyes, abdominal pain
Most people will refer to their “rotator cuff” muscles and often these muscles do require attention during treatment. However, it is often the restoration of balance in the muscles compensating for the injury/strain of one muscle that play the biggest role in recovery. During the consultation we will fully assess the shoulder, neck, upper back and rib cage and all associated muscles and nerves to identify to the root of the problem.
If any of the above mentioned areas are impacting the shoulders’ ability to recover and heal the root injury then techniques will be utilised to restore proper function.
Techniques will include soft and deep tissue massage and techniques that involve contracting muscles in certain positions for specific time periods. Use of osteopathic mobilisation whereby the patient allows the body to completely relax so the practitioner can allow the joint to move fully and without pain. Active mobilisations where the patient challenges their own body through movements to help restore joint coordination and control. Spinal, rib and shoulder manipulation techniques may be used in order to reset the joint and muscle tension.
If deemed appropriate, specific movements and exercises may be advised to maximise rate of recovery. However, in some cases resting may be more beneficial, this often applies to avid sports people/enthusiasts because the body needs time to heal the injury sustained.
Hydrotherapy and relaxation advice is also incredibly valuable in shoulder recovery. These two interventions can drastically improve treatment time and in some cases be the main cause for patient recovery.