If you suffer from pain or stiffness in your shoulder you are not alone. Far too often shoulder problems prevent individuals from participating in their favorite activities such as using the computer, gardening, or playing golf. At times shoulder pain can be so bad that it even prevents the simplest of daily activities such as reaching into the cupboard, and can even prevent a proper night’s sleep. Shoulder pain can be caused by direct trauma such as a sports injury, motor vehicle collision or a slip and fall. Pain can also be caused by overuse injuries.
To better understand the occurrence of overuse injuries it is important to realize that even with simple daily activities there is a significant amount of stress placed on the muscles of the shoulder. The shoulder is different than other joints in the body because it is designed to provide a great deal of movement, this is accomplished through the unique shape of the shoulder joint. The shoulder joint consists of the round surface of the upper arm, called the humerus, connected to the flat surface of the shoulder blade, or scapula. It is helpful to envision this “round on flat” surface to be similar to a golf ball resting on a golf tee. Unfortunately, in providing greater motion, this loose fit fails to provide bony protection and stability for the shoulder joint, which makes it more susceptible to injury. To protect it from injury, the shoulder relies on a complex set of muscles known as the rotator cuff. This group of four muscles holds the arm tightly onto the shoulder blade.
There are many causes for shoulder pain. These causes include repetitive use with sports or occupations, poor posture, lack of use, lack of stretching, muscle imbalances, or previous injuries. All of which can affect the normal function of the shoulder leading to strain. Over time this strain can develop into what is known as micro-trauma. Simply stated, micro-trauma is very small scale damage that occurs in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in response to small levels of strain. Although only small, and at least initially is not painful, this damage still needs to be repaired, which the body does by forming new tissue in and around the injured tissue. This new tissue is often referred to as scar tissue or soft tissue adhesions.
As this repetitive strain injury cycle continues, the rotator cuff and shoulder blade muscles ability to meet the demands placed on them diminishes. As these micro-traumas accumulate it is not uncommon for more serious injuries to occur which is accompanied by pain.
Shoulder pain that is caused by overuse injuries such as impingement, capsulitis and tendinopathy respond well to conservative management. Soft tissue adhesions, muscle imbalances and postural deficits must be addressed to resolve the issue.
Resolving scar tissue adhesions is a critical step in resolving shoulder pain. These adhesions are a sign that the tissues are not healthy, and unhealthy tissue will not respond well to traditional stretches and exercises. One of the most effective methods for treating soft tissue adhesions is Active Release Technique. It is a hands-on treatment method that was specifically designed to identify and address scar tissue adhesions that are interfering with the normal movement of the body. Our doctors at Diamond Sport & Spine Clinic are trained to treat your shoulder issues with this effective technique to relieve your shoulder pain.
Treating the scar tissue adhesions will make the damaged tissue healthier, and will often result in a significant reduction in pain. In fact, it is not uncommon to see a significant improvement in just a few visits. However, although addressing the scar tissue makes the shoulder and surrounding muscles healthier, they may still be somewhat tight or weak. When this is the case specific stretches or exercises can be incorporated into a home exercise/rehabilitation routine to help support in office care. The focus is on correcting postural deficiencies, such as rounded shoulders; muscle imbalances such as weak scapula stabilizers and tight chest(pectoral) muscles.