Having Shoulder Pain? What Causes this Discomfort?

Having Shoulder Pain? What Causes this Discomfort?

Shoulder injuries are a common complaint for those seeking physical therapy, and most commonly occur after playing a sport, performing a manual labor task, or continual repetitive motions. The shoulder joint, along with the associated muscles and joints, is responsible for allowing our arms to move in all different directions. This area plays a significant role in our functioning. Whenever we encounter shoulder pain, we usually know right away due to the pain associated with even the smallest shoulder movements.

Due to the fact that we use our shoulders and arms in nearly every activity, even when we're walking, it's almost impossible to not begin to notice when something is affecting your shoulders and causing significant or chronic pain.

Shoulder pain is most commonly found in individuals who engage in contact sports when an impact displaces the joint from the socket, creating a painful sensation. When not associated with sports injuries, shoulder issues are likely to take place in your later years, typically 60 years or older, because the soft tissue that cushions the shoulder begins to break down. Essentially, the wear and tear you put your body through decades or years earlier will begin to show itself and you'll need to work with a physical therapist or other healthcare professional to alleviate the pain.

The shoulder has many different parts to it which could ultimately cause you to start feeling some discomfort or pain, which is why we have broken down the anatomy of the shoulder to highlight potential areas where you're feeling those painful sensations.

Anatomy of the Shoulder

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, which unfortunately leaves this area open to many different injuries. These different shoulder injuries include things like dislocation and tears in the tendons or tissues from overuse and contact injuries.

The shoulder is composed of three bones: the humerus, the scapula, and the clavicle. These bones are surrounded by cartilage in between and two adjoining joints: the glenohumeral joint and the acromioclavicular joint. The shoulder is often referred to as the "ball and socket" joint meaning the part which looks like a ball is the humerus bone and the joint’s socket is the scapula or shoulder blade. This shoulder joint is also called the glenohumeral joint.

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that keep the top of the humerus (ball) in the correct place of the glenohumeral joint (socket). These muscles also allow for unique rotation about the joint. These muscles, bones, and joints all work together to allow the shoulder to be mobile in many different directions.

Because our shoulders are capable of supporting and moving in so many different directions depending on our actions, they're also potentially vulnerable to plenty of different shoulder injuries that are quite common. Knowing and understanding the different types of common shoulder injuries could help you identify bad situations before they develop and help you understand what could have caused your shoulder pain to begin with.

What Are Common Shoulder Injuries?

Shoulder pain can be uncomfortable and can appear after an overuse injury, a contact injury, or from action as common as sleeping on it “wrong.” There are plenty of factors that could contribute to the type of injury you potentially sustained and the different actions that cause you to experience that pain. We've taken the time to outline some of the most common shoulder injuries and some ways to reduce the pain you're experiencing.

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome/ Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome, which include Rotator Cuff Tendinitis, is an uncomfortable sensation when the rotator cuff gets caught or rubs against the acromion, which is the part of the scapula that covers the ball. When the tendons in the shoulder become irritated and inflamed, it can often be for a variety of reasons. Rotator Cuff Tendinitis is the most common shoulder injury. This syndrome typically affects athletes who overuse their shoulders such as swimmers and baseball players.

As we've highlighted before, this is one of those injuries that come from repeated actions in the same area and often occurs due to overuse. However, this tendon inflammation can happen after other common reasons like lifting, reaching, exercising, or even sleeping on the shoulder.

You may experience tendinitis when you raise your arm. As you raise your arm, this causes the space in between the rotator cuff and the acromion to become narrow and it increases pressure. This increase in pressure can cause pain due to the friction from the rotator cuff rubbing the acromion. The pain from Shoulder Impingement Syndrome will vary, and can typically feel like dull but constant pain, muscle or shoulder weakness, and even sharp pain when raising the shoulders or arms.

When looking for home remedies to recover from pain, icing the area often helps reduce swelling and irritation, and rest is always important to allow the joints and muscles to repair themselves over time. It’s important to be aware of using your shoulder and arm too much during this recovery process, gentle movements are okay but giving the shoulder time to reduce inflammation is crucial. It's often easier said than done when it comes to immobilizing your shoulder until it has ample time to heal, but any amount you can reduce the movement for your shoulder will give it ample time to heal.

Dislocation of the Shoulder

Dislocation of the shoulder can occur if the shoulder joint is moved too far in an incorrect direction. As the shoulder moves in the wrong direction, the joint can become dislocated. Dislocation can cause weakness or numbness in the shoulder, neck, or arm.

If you’ve experienced a dislocation in the shoulder, you may experience swelling, bruising, pain, and visible misplacement of the joint which may decrease mobility in the shoulder. If a shoulder is dislocated, often it relocates on its own. If it does not, medical attention is needed immediately to set the joint properly once again. To relieve pain from a dislocated shoulder joint that has dislocated, it’s important to rest and ice the joints and seek medical guidance if the pain and dysfunction persist. An anterior dislocation of the shoulder joint accounts for 95 percent of all shoulder dislocations cases.

How Can Physical Therapy Alleviate Shoulder Pain?

Physical therapy has many healing benefits when it comes to helping patients recover from shoulder pain. At Results Physiotherapy, our therapists specialize in manual therapy which is a hands-on, specialized physical therapy treatment. Manual therapy works by applying pressure where you are having pain or limited motion. The therapist will create passive movements of the joints and soft tissue to identify the root cause of the underlying pain and then work with you to develop strength and improved range of motion in the affected area. Manual therapy has been proven to yield tremendous positive benefits to our clients including reduced pain and increased mobility.

Manual therapy is typically implemented with other traditional physical therapy techniques to achieve greater outcomes over time. It is especially beneficial for treating acute and chronic pain and can also reduce inflammation and swelling of soft tissue, which is crucial when treating a shoulder injury. A few of the many benefits that manual therapy has to offer shoulder injury patients is that is can treat the pain without the use of painkillers or expensive surgeries. Physical therapy is a great option for those individuals who are looking for a less intrusive treatment program for their shoulder pain.

Additionally, one of the best ways to understand your injuries and future prevention is to become educated on the area. Your physical therapist at Results will help you identify the cause of your injury and learn techniques to prevent future injuries. Lastly, our team of friendly physical therapists will create a personalized exercise treatment plan to help with your injuries after they've performed a comprehensive evaluation and understand what your goals are.

Schedule an appointment today to get started alleviating that shoulder pain you're dealing with. Our licensed physical therapists are here to help you get back to feeling better, faster at one of our hundreds of clinics across the country or through our virtual therapy options!

Posted by Ryan Bucci at 11:10 AM
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