You might experience soreness in your shoulder after painting, lifting items, or playing a sport—anything that requires you to lift your arms. Or you may not remember any specific injury, but you still feel pain in your shoulder. There can be a number of causes and a lot of the time it starts with the rotator cuff. The main joint in the shoulder is formed by the arm bone (humerus) and the shoulder blade. The joint socket is shallow, allowing a wide range of motion in the arm. The rotator cuff is made up of 4 muscles that surround the arm bone. This cuff keeps the shoulder steady as the arm moves.
How do I know the rotator cuff is hurt? If the rotator cuff is involved, the pain is usually in the front or outside of the shoulder. This pain is usually worse when you raise your arm or lift something above your head. The pain can be bad enough to keep you from doing even the simplest tasks. Pain at night is common, and it may be bad enough to wake you. Pain relief strategies often start with active rest. During active rest, you can and should move your shoulder. Avoid difficult activities like lifting heavy objects or playing sports. You may also get relief by applying ice or working on active stretching to increase passive joint motion.
The first step of any rehabilitation therapy is simple range-of-motion exercises. By bending over and moving (rotating) your shoulder in large circles, you will help to avoid the serious complication of rotator cuff injury, called a frozen shoulder. You should follow these range-of-motion exercises with resistance exercises using rubber tubing or light dumbbells. The final step is resistance training with weight machines or free weights. Remember, form over function here, so think light weight and high reps between 12-15 per set.
What exercises should I do? The following exercises may help you......
Range of motion
Stand up and lean over so you’re facing the floor. Let your sore arm dangle straight down. Draw circles in the air with your sore arm. Start with small circles, and then draw bigger ones. Repeat these exercises 5 to 10 times during the day. If you have pain, stop. You can try again later.
Rotator cuff strengthening
Use a piece of rubber tubing for these exercises. Stand next to a closed door with a doorknob. Loop the tubing around the knob. With your hand that is closest to the door, bend your arm at a 90° angle (at the elbow) and grab the loop of the tubing. Pull the band across your tummy. At first, do 1 set of 10 exercises. Try to increase the number of sets as your shoulder pain lessens. Do these exercises every day.
Upper extremity strengthening
As your pain goes away, try adding a general upper body weight-lifting program using weight machines or free weights. Lie on your right side with your left arm at your side. With a weight in your left hand and your forearm across your tummy, raise your forearm. Keep your elbow near your side.
What else can I do to help this injury heal? An aerobic exercise program will help improve the blood flow to the tendon or bursa. The blood flow will also help reduce soreness.
Things to consider.....It often takes a shoulder a long time to heal. The earlier you address the pain, the better. Depending on your injury, you should be able to make a full recovery. However, many people complain that even with a full recovery, their shoulder is not as strong as before. Sometimes an injury that lasts a long time will cause the tendon to tear. Tell your chiropractor if your pain goes on in spite of a good treatment program or when there is weakness in certain motions of the arm. You may have torn your rotator cuff. This type of injury may need and MRI to see if there is some soft tissue damage that may need repair.
A functional fitness screening can help….
Most people can be assessed using a “functional fitness screening” (have you had one lately?) With this, someone can see if they have a rotator cuff problem as well as other tight muscles that are critical to proper function. When I see problems with mobility and flexibility, I recommend postural and mobility exercises to address rotator cuff issues and/or other muscles and this makes a HUGE difference with day to day pain, especially if they are chronic in nature. Remember, the ultimate rigidity is called “Rigor Mortis”. Life is motion and motion is movement. Posture, movement and alignment are critical to your quality of life. If you have been suffering with chronic shoulder pain and are not sure what to do next.... give us a call at 623.551.6677 or check out our website: www.myanthemhealth.com
Your in Better Health....
Dr Brian Hester
Back to Health of Anthem
Dr. Brian Hester, originally from Alabama, graduated from Life University in 1999 with his Doctorate of Chiropractic. He moved to Anthem, Arizona in 2003 and opened his wellness center. Dr. Hester's mission is to provide people in the North Phoenix area, with the tools they need to identify stressors in their life and the underlying causes of their health challenges. With Dr. Hester as a health partner, patients can make positive lifestyle changes and take control of their lives...... see more
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