The shoulder is made up of the humerus (the upper arm bone), which forms a ball-and-socket joint with the scapula (shoulder blade). Tendons and muscles attach the humerus to the scapula, making the shoulder joint extremely mobile and flexible. Unfortunately, a number of factors can lead to shoulder pain. The following is a brief overview of some of the most common causes of shoulder pain:
- Sudden Trauma: Injury to the shoulder can occur when using the arm to break a fall. Also, rough contact sports (such as football) or a car crash can cause damage to the shoulder, leading to pain and immobility.
- Age: Even normal use of the shoulder, over time, can lead to basic wear-and-tear on the tendons and muscles of the shoulder. Those over the age of forty are more susceptible to injury and pain in the shoulder joint. Osteoarthritis, in particular, often causes joint pain in older patients.
- Repetitive Stress/Rotator Cuff Tendonitis: Other sports activities, such as tennis, that require the repetitive need to lift the arm above the head, may also cause shoulder pain. Jobs that involve heavy lifting above the head are also a culprit in the inflammation of the tendons (known as tendonitis). Programs of therapeutic exercise are often used for patients with tendonitis.
- Bursitis: The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that cushions the bones, tendons, and muscles of the shoulder joint. Inflammation of the bursa can restrict movement and cause pain.
- Poor Posture: Posture has a direct relationship to the functioning of the shoulder. When the spine is properly aligned, the shoulder joint is free to work properly. However, when the natural curvature of the neck moves forward in posture, it can lead to tension and pain in the head, neck, and shoulders. Additionally, this forward head position also increases the burden of the head’s weight by 10 pounds per forward inch. Chiropractic careis recommended in such cases.
It’s important to seek help when pain persists for more than a few days; when swelling or bruising around the joint is present; when the joint becomes visibly deformed; or in cases when there is restricted functioning of the shoulder and arm.
Taking medications to relieve pain should be considered a temporary measure while sufferers wait to visit a rehabilitation office. Medications to relieve pain—analgesics—can cause serious side effects when taken incorrectly or on a regular basis. The long-term use of any type of drug is not recommended and can lead to very serious health issues.
Instead, our office provides healthy alternatives for pain relief. Acupuncture, for example, stimulates the brain to release both serotonin and endogenous opioids (such as endorphins) in order to provide natural—and effective—pain relief. These neurotransmitters also improve mood and encouraging better functioning of the body in general. This emphasis on whole-body care is called ‘holistic care.’ Holistic care seeks to provide real solutions for patients that not only avoid inflicting further damage (as drugs do), but also addresses all aspects of patient wellness.
Acupuncture also accelerates healing by boosting circulation. In particular, the tendons are known to have a poor blood supply, which often means that conditions affecting the tendons have slower healing times. Acupuncture brings blood and oxygen to the affected site while moving harmful waste matter out.