Shoulder pain can disrupt a person’s life. It interferes with reaching, lifting, carrying, sleeping and many other everyday tasks. Shoulder pain might be stemming from an issue in the shoulder itself, or it might be referred from the neck. An evaluation with a physician at PDR clinics can help you to determine the root of the problem. Imaging of the neck or shoulder might be needed, but oftentimes various provocative tests can help point to the root of the problem. Our physicians are trained to differentiate and determine the root cause of the shoulder pain without the need for costly X rays and MRI studies (unless totally necessary). This saves the patient time, money and unnecessary exposure to radiation when therapy is all that’s indicated at the time.
Oftentimes, people have been told they have trouble with their rotator cuff and may be inclined to guard or protect the shoulder because it hurts to move it. Rotator cuff is a term given to represent four muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis) that work together to stabilize and support shoulder motion. Avoiding moving the shoulder might make it feel better in the current state, but may also lead to more stiffness and weakness from disuse. This can become a bad cycle, as it changes how a person completes their everyday activities, if at all. Fear of making a problem worse or causing further “damage” can lead to disuse. The person might think, “If I rest it, it will heal and feel better.” Unfortunately, prolonged disuse can lead to frozen-shoulder type symptoms.
At PDR, our therapists perform a thorough evaluation to determine which muscles are tight, then teach the patient how to properly stretch them in order to decrease the risk of mobility loss &/or to increase range of motion. Our therapists also identify areas of weakness and postural issues that might be limiting function. Sitting and standing slouched can crowd the shoulder area, making arm movements painful when a person reaches.
Patients are also instructed in symptom (pain) management techniques, which are a crucial part of therapy and can be very empowering for the patient. However, the definition of pain is important. Pain should be defined as sharp, pinching or cramping. Patients should know that aching, burning and stiffness are generally okay to work through. Limiting exercise to a patient’s pain-free range of motion will help to increase strength and mobility without causing increased symptoms. In addition, ice may be used to decrease inflammation and help manage symptoms as needed.
Participating in household, work and recreational activities are important for both our physical and emotional quality of life. Don’t wait for shoulder pain to go away on its own. At PDR our therapists will help you to improve your mobility, strength and involvement in life!