Know them, catch them, treat them.
Though you may ignore your shoulder on good days, that all changes if you suffer a shoulder injury. Pain from a shoulder injury can be so severe that you become unable to do tasks you take for granted, such as driving a car, waving to your neighbor, and even hugging your loved ones. So how can you make sure shoulder injuries don’t leave you down and out?
Very few shoulder injuries affect the bones. Most injure the ligaments, tendons, and muscles on and around the shoulders. While athletes are prone to experiencing shoulder injuries, people who perform repetitive motions that use the shoulder are at increased risk.
Though there are several different shoulder injuries that may affect you, they all fall into two categories: instability and impingement. An instability shoulder injury is the result of a shoulder joint being forced out of place or moving out of its natural position on its own. These injuries often cause dislocated shoulders and make it painful to even raise your arm. Impingement shoulder injuries, frequently brought on by repetitive reaching overhead, are caused by the shoulder muscles rubbing against the top of the shoulder blade.
The secret to helping your shoulder overcome any injury is catching the problem fast. Otherwise, your problem will grow worse and more difficult to treat effectively. Three of the most common signs of a serious shoulder injury that requires medical evaluation are the following:
- feeling that your shoulder could pop or slide out of your shoulder socket with ease
- lack of strength to perform activities of daily living that require you to use your shoulder
- shoulder stiffness that makes it difficult or even impossible to rotate your arm as you normally would
If you suffer any of these symptoms, don’t wait to find out if your shoulder will feel better in a few days. Rather, seek expert medical evaluation from your primary care physician or an orthopedic surgeon.
When shoulder pain begins to affect you, your physician may recommend a series of exercises to strengthen your shoulder and prevent further injury. Common exercises include wall push-ups (stand in front of a wall with your hands on the wall and perform push-ups on the wall), tying elastic tubing to a doorknob and pulling on the tubing gently, and shoulder press-ups (sit upright in an armchair and push yourself off of the chair using your arms, keeping your feet on the ground).
In the event your pain doesn’t subside with exercise, anti-inflammatory medication is frequently prescribed to reduce swelling and help your shoulder recover from injury. If your injury is severe, you may require corrective surgery. Thanks to innovations in orthopedic surgery, many shoulder surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis, allowing you to undergo surgery and recover in the comfort of your own home.
When chronic shoulder pain sets in, physicians have a number of tools at their disposal. One of them is shockwave therapy, which sends low or medium energy waves to the injured tissue. However, a recent study shows that it may be time to hang up the shockers when it comes to shoulder therapy.
During the study, 104 18- to 70-year-old men and women were broken into two groups. One group was given shockwave treatment every week for four to six weeks, and the other undertook 45 minutes of supervised exercise twice a week for as many as 12 weeks.
At the end of the study, nearly two times as many people in the exercise group had reduced pain and disability, and more exercisers were given the okay for getting back to work. As if to add insult to treatment-prolonged injury, more individuals in the shockwave therapy group had to continue undergoing treatment after 12 weeks than those in the exercise group.
Moral of the story? If your physician recommends a shocking treatment for shoulder pain, exercise your right to say no!