Shoulder problems become increasingly common in mid-life. Caused by different structural problems, most shoulder complaints can be solved with good orthopedic care including physical therapy.
Most shoulder problems, whether associated with rotator cuff tears, impingement, or sprain can be treated early in physical therapy to work on reducing pain and getting full movement back to the area.
Generally, shoulder problems include stiffness and pain, and patients report the pain limiting their ability to lift their arm overhead. It is common for patients to express concern with painful motion, worry that if they lift their arm overhead it will create further damage, and they avoid moving the arm in painful directions.
For patients who have not had surgery, therapy begins with the instructions to move the shoulder to avoid further stiffness. If stiffness is severe and movement is less than 50% of normal, the term “frozen shoulder” is used to describe the stiffness and dysfunction.
Keeping the shoulder moving to avoid stiffness is a good guideline for anyone with shoulder problems who has not had surgery. To aid in restoring motion without pain, the therapist will instruct patients to use a pulley to lift the arm, walk the wall, or lie down and use a cane to lift the arm overhead with more ease by assisting with the uninvolved limb.
Therapy is helpful for shoulder patients. Reducing pain and inflammation with ultrasound, electrical stimulation, manual and therapeutic exercise eases discomfort and movement of the shoulder.
Posture plays a particular role in shoulder comfort. Keeping shoulders back, shoulder blades pulled to the middle of the spine, and your back straight will ease pain considerably. If you sit at a computer or desk during work, try to get out of the chair every hour and move. Refresh your posture by reaching your arms behind your back, reaching overhead, and rolling your shoulders back.
If work involves overhead activities, try to position yourself higher to the work to minimize the overhead reach and take frequent breaks, lowering your arms to relieve the shoulder muscles of strain from working overhead.
Shoulder pain in some cases requires surgery, therapy and recovery time. Most shoulder irritations recover with motion, therapy and postural correction.
Early orthopedic consultation gets shoulder problems on the road to recovery with early intervention and prompt pain relief. Including therapy in the process gives patients the ability to work at home on exercises that stretch, strengthen and relieve pain.
If you have had a shoulder problem, perhaps you can share with us ideas that were helpful in your shoulder recovery. Did you find a particular exercise or home remedy to aid in restoring your shoulder function?Sharing your success story can help others with shoulder problems get on the road to recovery.