Are you Suffering From Shoulder Pain?

Are you suffering from shoulder pain?  Have you noticed difficulty lifting objects, doing daily activities, participating in recreation sports, or trouble sleeping do to shoulder pain and stiffness?  Are you getting frustrated from the pain interfering with the things you love or want to do? If you answered yes to any one of these, this is not uncommon for shoulder injuries.  

The truth about shoulder pain is that most shoulder injuries occur over time.  Of course you can have a traumatic shoulder injury but even these types of injuries tend to manifest and become chronic over time.  Either way, both of these issues can become chronic and interfere with your life, how you function, your mood, and activity level.

What is shoulder pain?

When most people say they have shoulder pain they tend to point to the trapezius area, which is between the neck and the shoulder.  True shoulder pain typically occurs as an injury to the ball and socket joint.  Although there most likely is pain in the front of the shoulder, the pain could be located on the top, side, back, underneath, and it may even radiated down to other areas of the body. 

The shoulder joint is a very unique joint because it has a lot of movement in many different directions.  It is primarily attached by ligaments within the shoulder but most of the stability of the shoulder is determined by the function of the muscles that attach to it.  This includes but is not limited to the scapula (shoulder blade), the AC joint (Acromioclavicular joint), the SC joint (Sternoclavicular joint), and the GH (Glenohumeral joint AKA ball and socket).  Injury or dysfunction one of multiple of these structures or any structure for that matter can lead to changes in the shoulder function that result in the altered mechanics.

How does shoulder pain occur?

Most shoulder pain occurs over time and is as a result repetitive strain and movements.  Many injuries also do occur from trauma such as slip and falls, car accidents, sports injuries, etc.  As mentioned before, the shoulder is a very dynamic joint that has many muscles that attach to it. Most of the time, overuse of certain muscles (while at the same time other muscles become undersused) then alter the mechanics of the joint.  This muscle imbalance is the beginning of the injury cycle but there is often no pain. Pain tends to be the very last thing that we feel as humans. It is a sign that your body needs to change and that you have been doing things wrong for some time.  Another way to stay it… its your body telling you to stop, recognize there is something wrong and the pain signal is an indication that if you go further, you may hurt yourself more.

What is recovery from shoulder pain like?

Lets face it, most people do not want surgery unless it’s absolutely necessary!  It is typically best to follow a conservative approach to care. Studies and research shows that those patients who are healthier, have better range of motion, & strength, have better outcomes with not only conservative care but surgery as well.

Okay, so if you do not want surgery then here is what it looks like.  Assuming you are in a lot of pain you typically go through three phases of care.  Phase one of the shoulder is to reduce pain, inflammation, swelling, and make you more comfortable.  In this stage you are likely in a lot of pain from either a new shoulder injury or an exacerbation of a shoulder injury that you had in the past.   

Honestly, most people come to me in phase two as they have pain but they have been dealing with this condition or injury for a while.  It typically interferes with their life, activities of daily living, is always a mental drain, and is giving them problems regarding movement.  Phase two encompasses mild to moderate strengthening of the shoulder with a lot of mobility work and rehab.  This mobility work and strengthening are geared to prepare the shoulder for better mechanics and movement patterns.  This is the actual foundation of your recovery and you will spend the most time here no matter what shoulder injury you have! The groundwork and foundation is critical as this is the basis for the next phase of care.

Phase 3 shoulder be mostly (not entirely) non-painful and at this time you should be feeling much better if not ready to get back to activity with some level of confidence.  Here, we focus on continuing the foundation and correcting mechanics but the exercises that you complete may be the more advanced versions. At this time, your level of care (the number of times you visit us per week) should be lessened or reduced.  It is just a matter of time before you are back to your activity feeling well and you should have learned enough about your shoulder that you can self manage.

Phase 3+1 is the state in which you can make a decision about your health and future.  Continue to maintain your shoulder with us or go your own route. While neither is wrong, it is recommended that you consider preventative care and maintain the hard work you already completed.

What if it does not get better?

This is a very common question but there is no way to know if you do not get started!  As mentioned before, outcomes are much better for those who are healthy, have better motion, and strength.  If for some reason you are not getting better within your care we will address that for sure. We would ask questions like this… are you getting better?  How is your pain level? How is your level of function? Did you have enough visits/time to correct this? Are you doing your part?  We use specific outcome measures and testing to help us determine your level of progress.

If for some reason you truly are not getting better we would evaluate that, make a decision to refer you out to get imaging, see another professional and/or see a surgeon for a consult.  We have networked with various orthopedic surgeons in the San Diego area to give people care that they may need be beyond what we can do in our office.

How is shoulder pain diagnosed?

There are many ways to do this but for our purposes we perform range of motion testing, strength testing, and orthopedic testing of the shoulder.  We take an in-depth look to see how your shoulder is functioning as a whole and from there we can make a clinical decision on whether you are a good fit for our program or not.  

In addition, we perform a functional movement to help us asses what the cause of the pain may be from or if there are any other movement dysfunctions that contribute to your shoulder.

What are some other causes of shoulder pain?

There are many causes of shoulder pain and dysfunction.  If you are interested please take a look below at some of the common shoulder injuries we treat in our office.

Want an all inclusive program? Check out our Iron Shoulder Program!

This shoulder program includes lifetime access, community support, exercises, a mobility class, 32 page PDF, and much more to help you get back on track.

These are the most common exercises and mobility drills we recommend with patients suffering from shoulder pain.

What is next for you? 

If you feel that we are a good fit for you and you want us to help with your shoulder pain and get you back to your activity make sure to book an appointment today and schedule online.