Shoulder pain is one of the hardest symptoms to treat. Surgeries almost never go well and sometimes leave you with a dramatic loss of range of motion. Most of the time people have pain on the front or side of their shoulder and it increases with lifting something to chest height or overhead.
Injuries to the shoulder can be all over the place. From a traumatic injury like a fall on to the shoulder or a car accident. Or overuse by lifting something over and over again and putting too much strain on the shoulder joint.
The reason the shoulder pain is so hard to treat is because there is so much that goes on at that joint. It has a lot of muscles attached to it and it has a crazy amount of range of motion.
The shoulder joint is composed of the humerus, clavicle, and scapula. The humeral head fits into a socket built by the clavicle and the scapula and they are attached to the torso by muscles and to the sternum by a ligament.
The scapula is what most people refer to as the shoulder blade and it is very important in shoulder health. The scapula allows for the stability of the shoulder, which is a good thing. The scapula glides up and down and side to side on your back as your shoulder moves and this creates a sort of synergism to help take the load off the shoulder joint. Poor scapula health usually leads to shoulder pain.
Common Locations Of Pain
Some of the most common locations of shoulder pain are on the front and to the side of the shoulder. If you have shoulder pain in the front it could be bursitis, bicipital tendonitis, or sprain/strain.
If you have shoulder pain to the side then more than likely it has something to do with your supraspinatus muscle. This is could be from overuse, bad posture, bone spur, or even a partial tear.
One of the things we like to look at when treating shoulder pain is your scapular health. We look to see if the scapula is moving correctly when the shoulder moves and is creating that synergism to take some of the load off.
We also look to see if there is a lot of winging in the scapula. Winging is when your scapula comes off your torso and you can fit fingers underneath it. This is poor stability. Your scapula needs to stay stable so the shoulder can be mobile.
To help increase scapular stability we work on a muscle called your serratus anterior. This muscle helps pull the scapula back down on to the torso. We train this muscle using different exercises that help keep the scapula in place while the shoulder moves through a set range of motion.
Pin And Stretch
Another way to help treat shoulder pain is by doing pin and stretch on all the muscles that surround the shoulder. Pin and stretch is a sort of muscle therapy where a therapist pins the muscle down and moves it through a range of motion to stretch it. By pinning the muscles you can help stretch certain areas of the muscle instead of stretching it fully.
The best places to pin and stretch are the lats, deltoid, and the capsule. This allows you to have an increase in how much you can move your shoulder freely and without pain.
Graston is another great treatment for shoulder pain. Graston is a form of therapy where you take a blunt tool and you scrape the skin and dig into the underlying tissues. This helps break up adhesions and reduces pain.
The best places to have Graston done are the same as the pin and stretch places. Graston is very similar in what pin and stretch does as in its affecting the muscles and decreasing pain. But with Graston, you can produce different responses to the body such as a pro-inflammatory or an anti-inflammatory response by scraping deeper or lighter.
These are just a few of the ways that we treat shoulder pain. If you are experiencing shoulder pain schedule an appointment today so we can get you feeling better!