The most common cause of shoulder pain is called impingement syndrome. Impingement of the rotator cuff tendons inside the shoulder joint is a problem experienced by people typically when they attempt to reach overhead. Often the symptoms of shoulder pain occur during the night when we lay on one side more than the other. This pain is located in the shoulder but also can radiate down into the shoulder blade, up to the neck and sometimes cause pain that travels down the arm. Shoulder impingement is not a structural problem (meaning surgery is needed) but a functional problem (meaning the body isn’t moving properly due to weakness or stiffness). Now if the shoulder impingement is present for years, it will turn into a structural problem that requires surgery (don’t do that).
Most of the options out there that treat shoulder impingement are focused on identifying and treating the symptom. This is often done with imaging of the shoulder, pain medications, injections, and rehabilitation of the shoulder itself. In this article we are going to discuss the dysfunctions that commonly create shoulder impingement which should be addresses to make the problem go away permanently. The following are the 6 most common causes of shoulder pain/impingement:
Shoulder Pain when reaching up and to the side (Abduction):
Shoulder Pain when reaching up and in front of us (flexion):
In order to find a solution to your shoulder pain you need a physical therapist who is able to look at the entire body in order to identify the actual dysfunction. We have three options when treating people who are having pain with movement 1.) Treat the symptom. This is often done with massage, ultrasound, traction, positions of comfort. Often there is relief but only for a few hours or days. 2.) Treat the compensation. This is often done by focusing on the shoulder joint only. It is important to recognize that the shoulder is moving incorrectly due to other factors in the body. It is compensating for a problem. 3.) Treat the dysfunction. Treating the dysfunction not only finds the source of the problem but it also indirectly treats the compensation and symptoms at the same time. This is where we should be focusing our efforts.
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