By Sydney CBD Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson
The shoulder is one of the most mobile joints in your body and is made up of three bones; the arm bone (humerus), the shoulder blade (scapula) and the collar bone (clavicle). Multiple soft tissue structures and muscles also contribute to the shoulder to make sure that it stays mobile and stable. Since so many structures contribute to the shoulder region, shoulder pain is a very common complaint. Poor posture, ageing, trauma/injury, occupation and overuse can be responsible for shoulder complaints.
What are the common causes of shoulder pain?
- Impingement Syndrome
- Adhesive Capsulitis
- Rotator Cuff Tear
- AC separation
What are the common structures which contribute to shoulder pain?
What you can do to help yourself if you are experiencing Shoulder Pain?
If your shoulder pain is from a recent injury or trauma, we recommend the application of an ice-pack or anti-inflammatory gel to reduce the amount of swelling or inflammation of the shoulder region. Ice should only be applied indirectly, with a towel buffer to avoid damaging the skin, for 20 minute periods per hour. 48 hours after injury, you should consider changing to heat pack application as this will encourage blood, oxygen and nutrient flow to damaged tissues and relaxation of the region.
If your posture is contributing to your shoulder pain, it is important to assess your sitting posture and desk set up. Sitting for 8+ hours a day in less than ideal posture can be a stress on some shoulder structures. Sometimes minor changes to your desk set up and postural stretches and exercises can be beneficial from those that suffer with ongoing shoulder problems.
If your shoulder pain is aggravated on a daily basis due to your occupation, recovery may be slower than anticipated. Structures need time to repair and recover and constant aggravation and inflammation is not beneficial. Perhaps taking a break from work to rest or changing the duties you perform to the lighter variety may be warranted. You should speak to your health professional prior to making this decision.
When should you seek professional help for your Shoulder pain?
- Pain which is getting stronger and/or interrupting work/hobbies
- Feeling unstable or prone to dislocation
- Visible deformity, redness, swelling
- Weakness, sensory loss, colour change or pins and needles in the arm or hands
What can a health practitioner do to help with your Shoulder pain?
With so many structures making up the shoulder, shoulder complaints can at times be tricky to diagnose. A health professional will spend time questioning the history of your complaint and establishing what aggravates and relieves your pain. Assessment of range of motion and tissue tension will be performed alongside provocative testing to best establish which structures are contributing to your complaint. Your diagnosis and prognosis will be explained to you in a way which you can learn and understand your condition.
Hands-on techniques will aim to address muscular tension, joint restriction and return stability to the shoulder and surrounding regions. Time will be spent educating you on how to improve your posture and lifestyle to speed up recovery and prevent reoccurrence.