Shoulders can be a Pain in the Neck…
Most of us worry about the big problems like knee injuries, hip injuries and back injuries which was covered in our last newsletter, but a lot of the time we forget about the upper half of our bodies. Shoulder pain is more common than you may think and can often be a sign of injury in other areas of the body.
It is a common belief that the biggest cause of shoulder pain is arthritis and only affects the elderly and therefore is not a major concern to most of us, however, everyday activities such as lifting, housework, sports and even sleeping incorrectly are all linked to causes of shoulder pain. Doing these activities incorrectly over a long period of time can lead to rotator cuff injuries and instability, both conditions that cause discomfort and long-term damage if not addressed at the early stages of the injury. Injuries like these can severely inhibit your ability to work, as a damaged shoulder cuff cannot bare as much weight as a healthy one and often would limit movements like lifting your arms above your head.
The way that the body reports pain can sometimes be unreliable, this is especially seen in the shoulder region as there are multiple nerve pathways that are connected to the neck and surrounding muscles. This means that the brain may not recognise a neck injury as the cause of pain and the patient may think there is an issue with their shoulder, this is called referred pain. Areas that may be the cause of this referred pain are the elbow, the heart and the spine/neck. Because of the wide array of regions connected to the shoulder, it is vital that if you are experiencing shoulder pain that is not being resolved by home remedies or time, that you consider an examination by a physiotherapist as it may be an indicator of a different problem.
Prevention of injury to the shoulder is easily done by including these five steps into your daily routine: 1. Regular stretching and movement of the shoulder and upper body. This includes warming up with dynamic stretches before exercise and warming down with static stretching afterwards. 2. Building up endurance is key to ensuring that you do not strain your shoulder. This is often done by athletes recovering from injuries where they slowly return to their sport over a month or two. They may train for 20 minutes one day, rest the next and then train for 30 minutes on the third day. Increasing this slowly allows for you to monitor your recovery and will reduce chances of reinjury. 3. Rest! Resting is absolutely essential, especially if you are constantly using your shoulders everyday. Rest is also important if you are noticing early signs of shoulder pain as it allows for recovery which could prevent further damage. 4. Cross training is a useful method to maintain your training routine while managing the stress put on your muscles. Because of the nature of swimming, shoulders are put under a lot of pressure and can be damaged by wear and tear over long periods of time. Instead of swimming, athletes will train on a bike or run which maintains their fitness but allows for upper body recovery. 5. See a professional if you are feeling any discomfort for a long period of time that is not being resolved.