Shoulder pain is very common. And with all of the motions occurring at the shoulder it should not be hard to understand why. Shoulders help you reach up and down, forward and back, side to side and all directions in between. With all of that wonderful mobility comes a greater chance for injury.
One common shoulder problem we see in the clinic is called impingement syndrome. An impingement syndrome, is caused by a repeated pinching or compressing of the rotator cuff (the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder) and/or of the bursae (a cushion between the bones and muscles).
Impingement syndrome is characterized by pain/soreness in the shoulder, which is often exacerbated by overhead activities like painting, throwing, or lifting. Impingement syndrome occurs as a result of mechanical issues such as muscle imbalances, weaknesses and poor postures.
To improve your shoulder mechanics, and decrease shoulder pain assess and address the following issues:
1) Weak upper back muscles: The muscles on the back of your shoulder and between your shoulder blades are very important to proper shoulder function. Often these muscles are weak and de-conditioned leading to muscle imbalance and faulty mechanics. Strengthen these muscles to decrease shoulder pain and promote better shoulder function.
2) Poor sleeping habits: Sleeping on the involved shoulder or on your stomach can contribute to impingement pain. Avoid sleeping with your arm up under the pillow, or with your body weight directly on the shoulder to decrease impingement symptoms.
3) Poor sitting or standing posture: Often our lifestyles lead to poor posture. The more rounded and tight your shoulders get from sitting at the computer, driving, or slouching on the couch, the more out of balance you get. Poor posture can significantly hinder your shoulder mechanics. Focus on your sitting and standing postures by reminding yourself to squeeze your shoulder blades back several times a day and working on core strengthening exercises. By improving your posture you will decrease shoulder pain.
Finally, many people ask about bone spurs. Bone spurs are areas of excessive calcification that develop as a result of the stresses you put on your shoulder. These occur over time and are often present in the shoulder region. Bone spurs can compromise the space for the rotator cuff muscles and contribute to an impingement condition. However, in many cases, by improving shoulder strength, posture, and the mechanics of the shoulder girdle bone spurs can be made insignificant.
The important thing to note is that with attention and a well planned physical therapy exercise program shoulder impingement can be handled conservatively.
If you have shoulder pain try the above. If these don’t work, call us, for a free consult.
Photo: Lux Alptraum
- Neck and Shoulder Pain (everydayhealth.com)