Shoulder pain can be really irritating, it can be a catching pain when you least expect it, a more constant sensation, or can be completely restricted (frozen shoulder). Whatever the cause, you want to get to the bottom of it and get on the route to recovery. We can help.
What Causes Shoulder Pain?
When we picture a shoulder we typically think of the ball and socket joint at the top our arm, this is called the Glenohumeral Joint (see diagram). The Glenohumeral joint is best considered as part of the Shoulder Girdle. The Shoulder Girdle includes the; glemohumeral joint, collar bone, shoulder blade and the supporting muscles and ligaments connecting them. Looking at the shoulder as a girdle we now have 3 joints and multiple structures influencing the way the shoulder functions.
- Tendon injuries – including the rotator cuff and bicipital tendon (tendon from your biceps) this video shows a common tendon injury we see.
- Muscle Injuries – strains or overuse injuries.
- Frozen Shoulder – this can be painful at first and the shoulder becomes very restricted in certain movements.
- Ligament Injuries – the ligaments are what connect bone to bone and help stabilise joints.
- Cartilage injuries – every joint in the body has a layer of cartilage between the moving surfaces. Typical injuries to the shoulder cartilage include labral tears, acromioclavicular joint (a/c joint) injuries.
- Degenerative Conditions – wear and tear to the shoulder, Arthritis.
- Bursitis – in areas of high movement we have Bursae, which help spread load and allow muscles, tendons, and ligaments to move freely. Sometimes these can become inflamed causing pain and limiting movement.
- Shoulder Dislocation – This needs medical attention to re-locate the joint. After a dislocation; the joint, ligaments, and muscles change. The joint can become less stable, which can result in re-dislocation.
- Pain Referral – pain can be referred from other structures in the body. The shoulder and arm receive their nerve supply from the neck and neck pain can often refer to the shoulder. Also heart problems (heart attack, angina) can present with pain in the arm.
Less common but very relevant is Polymyalgia Rheumatica which can cause pain in the shoulder and/or pelvis. Polymyalgia rheumatica, when it occurs, needs treating by your GP as it can be serious if it worsens. However it is easily treated with steroids.
Diagnosing the Cause of Shoulder Pain
Our Osteopaths carry out a full examination of the shoulder and test movement using orthopaedic tests to identify what is going wrong. We look at life style factors like; work, posture, or having to pick up the kids, to identify what caused it and (if need be) how we can make changes to prevent it reoccurring.
Our Osteopaths are also trained to check for other medical conditions which may cause shoulder pain; this allows us to be very thorough and places you in very safe hands.
Treatment for Shoulder Pain
Everyone is different and we see this with every patient we treat. What works for some might not be so suitable for others, and some people don’t like certain techniques. We always form a treatment plan specifically for you, we advise on what we think will help the most but adapt are treatments if needed.
- Massage and soft tissue work – to ease tight or sore muscles that may be restricting the shoulder.
- Mobilisation – to restore movement to a restricted joint.
- Spinal Manipulation – this is advance mobilisation technique, often associated with an audible click of the back, can help improve range of motion and have an effect on nerve activity.
- Acupuncture – our Osteopaths are trained in medical acupuncture. Acupuncture is thought to have an effect on the neurological pain pathways, creating a change in the pain experienced.
- Kinesiology Taping (K-Tape) – taping a problematic shoulder can help improve healing and change muscle activity.
- Expert Advice – to help you self-manage and identify the early signs of your shoulder pain returning.
If you have any concerns about your shoulder pain, or would like to find out more, please feel free to contact Pure Health Osteopath Clinic on 01934 752122.