When a patient comes in complaining of shoulder pain it is very important for us as osteopaths to get them to be very specific about where the pain is. Patients often point to different parts of the shoulder that are causing pain, and can be ranging anywhere from the lower neck or shoulder blade, into the chest or in the actual shoulder joint itself.
Most shoulder problems are due to poor posture. As soon as you slump forward the arm will hang from the muscles more so than the ligaments of the shoulder and this causes a significant amount of wear on the tendons of those muscles (the cause of rotator cuff tendonitis and tears). The shoulder joint also has a large amount of muscles which originate in many other parts of the body including the pelvis, lower back, upper back, neck and chest then attach to the upper arm, shoulder blade and collar bone.
Common Shoulder injuries include:
- rotator cuff tears – pain/weakness when lifting the arm or lying on it, usually from repetitive overuse or sports injury.
- acromioclavicular joint pain – pain where the collarbone meets the tip of your shoulder
- tendonitis – inflammation of the tendon from overuse or arthritis
- shoulder impingement (Subacromial bursitis) – when shoulder tendons are trapped and compressed during shoulder movements
- frozen shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis) – painful and gradual stiffening of the shoulder capsule (the tissue that surrounds your shoulder joint) which then limits/”freezes” your shoulder movement
- postural tension – neck and shoulder stiffness from poor posture
- referred pain – pain coming from the neck or upper back causing shoulder pain
- osteoarthritis – swelling, stiffness, sharp pain due to wear and tear of the cartilage in the shoulder joint
- shoulder instability – dislocation of the shoulder joint
Osteopathic treatment will aim at improving the function and movement of the shoulder and acromioclavicular joints and decrease any tension in the associated muscles. Your osteopath will also want to address any strain through the pelvis, spine and ribs which may be causing altered muscle tension in the shoulder or poor posture.
To complement the treatment, we may also provide some stretching and rehabilitative exercise as well as offer advice on how to improve your posture and lifestyle habits. If there is no improvement, we may refer you back to your GP for X-rays, scans or other tests to help in management.