Shoulder pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints at any age.
A study in 2004 suggested 60% of us will develop a shoulder problem at some point in our life. The good news is that about half will get better within a few weeks. Unfortunately, those that don't resolve in that period often need rehabilitation or risk up to 8 months or more of discomfort and restricted range of motion.
Pain can radiate in to the neck, arm, hand or between the shoulder blades and most commonly comes from a 'frayed'/ inflamed tendon leading to pain when you lift the arm approaching 90 degrees out to the side. Often referred to as sub-acromial impingement, rotator cuff strain/tear or tendonitis.
It is so much easier to treat shoulder pain in the early/mild/moderate stages but the paradox is that by the time a person knows it's not getting better and makes the decision to see an osteopath it is often more 'set in' and takes more intensive treatment to get it right.
Often the work we do to restore range of motion to the shoulder may be alongside cortisone injection treatment or may be post-operation on a shoulder. for example following an ASAD (Arthroscopic subacromial decompression) where a bit of bone is shaved away to allow freer movement of the tendon but where possible we try to treat the problem before it reaches either of these stages.
The take home point here is don't leave shoulder pain until it's disabling. Give us a call or use the contact us link in the red bar above to arrange a consult to see how we can help. If by chance we can't, we won't charge you for the consult.
A bit more science...what are the most common causes? 70% of all doctor and therapist visits for shoulder problems result in a diagnosis of rotator cuff disorder. Most interestingly, MRI studies in asymptomatic subjects (those reporting no shoulder pain) revealed that-
72% of subjects over 50 had a rotator cuff disorder.
48% for 40-49 year olds had a rotator cuff disorder.
43% for 30-39 year olds had a rotator cuff disorder.
So what causes the asymptomatic shoulder to become symptomatic?
Often a mechanical imbalance that causes more pressure to placed on one area than the next is responsible. As Osteopaths we are encouraged to look at symptoms in context as the presenting symptom may only be the tip of the iceberg.
For example, if we look at a tennis serve: In an effective/balanced delivery the power should be distributed as follows-
Legs and trunk 54%
However, if one area is not up to the job, it puts greater stress on another.
For the majority who don't put themselves through the rigours of a tennis serve, small restrictions in the neck, mid (thoracic) spine and shoulder blade movement can affect the functioning of the shoulder and even under 'usual' controlled movements, can be the difference between it remaining injury free and not. Higher speed movements require greater coordination to decelerate the shoulder joint but uncoordinated movements of any speed - like using your non-dominant hand to throw or even reach for the arm of a coat can also result in injury as the rotator cuff muscles are inadequately trained to protect the shoulder.
A forward head position, computer/mouse use and working with the hands above the head are common additional triggers as they alter the angle at which the ball and socket operates and the whole 'tracking' of the ball and socket joint of the shoulder.
How can your Osteopath help? Osteopaths are specialists in biomechanics of the body and look to identify and treat the cause of the symptoms. Treatment is bespoke by its very nature and takes into account age, fitness and idiosyncrasies which allow the Osteopath to develop an effective treatment approach. Imaging may be appropriate and we have access to private MRI where necessary. Osteopaths are fully trained in orthopaedic clinical diagnosis and will advise if there is a need for other medical intervention, e.g. surgery if the damage is too severe to benefit from treatment.
Every day 30,000 people in the UK see an Osteopath... If you feel a visit could benefit your health, call our friendly, experienced team at Sandbach Osteopathic Clinic to make an appointment. If we can't help you we will tell you!