We use our shoulders the whole day long. While reaching for a plate on the top shelf, opening a door or getting dressed. At virtually every daily act we use our shoulders. It is therefore not surprising that pain in a shoulder has a great limiting effect on our daily lives. So it is important to understand the complaint in the shoulder and find the cause.
Anatomy of the shoulder
he shoulder is a joint with a head and a socket. This type of joint gives the shoulder the greatest flexibility and range of motions. At the same time it is this great mobility in the joint that is its weak point, which can cause instability of the joint. The combination of the head in the socket is not very strong because the head is greater than the socket. A ‘dislocated’ shoulder does occur rather frequently.
The structure around the joint provides its stability. The structure is the combination of muscles, ligaments, tendons and a joint bandage. In order to get the muscles going there is a sort of cushion with moisture on the shoulders, which is called a bursa. The bursa is needed for smoother movement of the shoulder.
Symptoms of shoulder complaints
Shoulder complaints can occur gradually but it is also possible that pain arises instantly after heavy duty work like lifting tiles. You may feel the pain inside the shoulder or around the shoulder, whilst moving or at rest. The pain can also irradiate to the neck or fingers. However, once there is a complaint you will feel pain in your shoulder no matter which type of complaint it is. Sleeping is going to be difficult because you can only use one side and movement in one arm is going to be limited.
Causes of shoulder complaints
Almost all the problems arise in the same way, by overloading. When you make an intense, repeating movement for a long period of time, irritation will occur in the shoulder. Most likely the bursa will swell whereby the muscles cannot move easily. Complaints will occur in your arm, and it is also possible you will feel pain when you hold your arm still. The nerves in your shoulder can radiate the pain to your neck, shoulder blades, elbow or fingers.
Typical shoulder complaints
The movement of the shoulder is coordinated by several muscles. The tendons of these muscles can become damaged by stress. The straining of the muscles will irritate the tendon and inflammation will occur. This may lead to a (slight) swelling and the skin will feel warmer. Heavy lifting, combing your hair and putting on a jacket are examples of movements that will be very painful while having tendinitis.
Making the same movement over and over again for a long period of time is often the reason for an occurrence of a bursitis. Irritation of the bursa leads to swelling which will limit the movement of the arm. Lifting the arm is suddenly a painful experience regardless of the direction of movement. But even without movement the arm remains painful.
Entrapment of nerves
Through the shoulder (joint) run several major vessels and nerves. They can be caught in the joint while lifting an arm. This is called entrapment. Entrapment can have several causes and therefore the forthcoming complaints will differ as well. The above mentioned Tendinitis and Bursitis can cause an entrapment but it can also occur when the structure around the head and socket is unstable and a nerve is caught and trapped in the shoulder joint. Typical characteristics of an entrapment are pain on the outside of the shoulder, which can radiate to the hand. The lifting of some weight with this arm will be felt as very painful.
What causes shoulder complaints?
A stooped posture behind a computer, heavy lifting above your head, prolonged movements, these are situations everybody has to deal with in life. Often we do not think about how you sit at a desk or how heavy the thing is that you want to lift to the top shelf. In the scheme below how wrong movements can lead to complaints (on your shoulder) will be explained.
For example, when the same movement is made over and over, this will lead to pressure on the shoulder joint. Because of this pressure on the joint movement irritation will occur. Our body will give a pain signal in order to protect ourselves. In reaction to that our muscles will contract to relieve the pressure and irritation. When you don’t stop the stress to the irritated spot you will feel more pain. The vicious circle at the onset of shoulder complaints can arise suddenly or it can build up gradually over years leading to increasing levels of pain.
Treatment of shoulder complaints
After a thorough examination of the shoulder, neck and upper back a MoveWell chiropractor will determine the cause of the complaints. The chiropractor chooses from a great number of specific techniques to correct the movement of the shoulder. This process is often supported with very specific exercises in order to keep the shoulder healthy.