Have you had shoulder pain ever since Christmas? From hanging lights to hauling decorations, the holiday season can be a challenge to our shoulders. Even more so this year when we have been home more and not in our usual routine.
Do you find yourself having pain when you are reaching overhead, grabbing the milk from the fridge, or while you are trying to sleep? Shoulder pain can affect every aspect of your life and make it difficult to perform even the simplest of daily tasks.
If you find yourself compensating for your shoulder pain by using your other arm, changing where objects are located, or simply trying to avoid reaching overhead then read on.
The most common cause of shoulder pain that started without a particular injury is called “shoulder impingement syndrome”.
What is Shoulder Impingement? It’s primarily a space issue. You see, there is a big sticky-outy part of the shoulder blade that is called the acromion. The acromion starts on your shoulder blade on the back of your body and points forward towards the front of your body. This location puts it over the top of the big arm bone, also called the humerus (although there is nothing funny about not being able to use your arm!). So, with the acromion over the top and the humerus on the bottom, what is in the middle?
In between the acromion and the humerus you have all the muscles of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff muscles help to hold your shoulder in place and keep it moving correctly when you are lifting your arm. When things aren’t going correctly, these muscles get pinched and start to cause pain. And, because muscles are stupid, when they feel pain they stop working right. Which means – your shoulder stops moving correctly and you feel more pain!
How do you know if what you are suffering from is Shoulder Impingement?
There is a very easy test that you can do at home. Simply sit up straight or stand up tall with both arms resting straight down at your side. Now, try to lift both arms out to the side and touch your hands over head. If you have pain in the middle of the motion then you most likely have shoulder impingement. Usually, the pain gets worse when you have your arms straight out to the side but gets better as you lift your arms further overhead.
If you have pain at the beginning of this motion or at the end, then you are suffering with a different condition.
What can you do if you are suffering from Shoulder Impingement?
Here are 3 easy steps to help you get your shoulder moving normally again and eliminating pain.
- 1Ice is so very nice! Ice is a pain inhibitor which means you don’t have to pop pills - you can just put some ice on the area. You don’t have to ice for very long. Research indicates that you only need to ice for 5 minutes to decrease the pain. Use ice as often as needed throughout the day for a natural pain remedy.
- 2Give your shoulder a break! Have you ever heard the saying “If that motion hurts then stop doing it?” It truly applies here with shoulder impingement. If you keep trying to lift your shoulder overhead and it hurts every time then you are clearly aggravating the problem. Give your shoulder a break and stop using it to reach overhead or perform overheard exercise. This gives the tendons of the rotator cuff a chance to heal and stop being constantly aggravated.
- 3Consult with a Shoulder Specialist! Having a shoulder specialist look at your particular shoulder issue and guide you on a personalized treatment program may be the best answer for your particular shoulder pain. We can figure out what your specific issue is and find the best answers to get you back to doing all the things you love. The shoulder is a complicated area and needs to be treated by a specialist who has studied the shoulder in detail. Here at Physical Therapy for everyBODY, we treat shoulder pain daily and understand that your shoulder pain is unique.
You may have tried Physical Therapy before and not gotten the results you were looking for with a “cookie cutter approach” to your shoulder pain. If you are looking for someone to help you solve the puzzle of your shoulder pain, then we encourage you to apply for a Free Discovery Visit. During this visit we can discuss your particular shoulder issues. We will hear your story of what has happened with your shoulder pain as well as understand what your goals are. If we believe we are a good fit for you then we can discuss what next steps look like to solving your shoulder pain.