What it isn’t
The pain we feel is simply a request from our brain to change. Pain does not equate to damage, rather an alert we need to change our physical behavior or else physical impairment will proceed.
Mechanical shoulder pain does not have to be debilitating!
Your rotator cuff could be “degenerative” and “partial tearing” regardless of whether or not you have pain. If you’re over fifty years old, it would be abnormal not to have degeneration!
Just because you have shoulder pain doesn’t mean you need an MRI. If your MRI shows “tearing,” “degeneration,” or “arthritis”, that doesn’t mean it’s generating your pain. And just because you have shoulder pain does not mean you’re broken or need to be “fixed.”
The medical literature is concluding most degeneration and arthritis shouldn’t be scary — it’s nothing more than “gray hair” and “wrinkles” on the inside, similarly to normal aging on the outside.
In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary! It’s important to first rule out all non-surgical options first to increase the likelihood of a successful surgery.
Research from shoulder VOMIT (Victims of Medical Information Technology)
Common Causes of Shoulder Pain
Mechanical shoulder pain is most commonly caused by faulty body mechanics, repetitive use without appropriate rest, and poor postural habits. Most shoulder pain has cervical spine (neck) involvement, whether as the source, or a secondary issue.
Humans are meant to move and move often — not sit in chairs and stare at electronic screens for hours on end. From infancy through the first year of life, we learn to how to move, setting us up for the rest of our lives.
Mechanical shoulder pain can occur suddenly from a particular incident, or can gradually over time for no apparent reason. The pain can occur from rigorous use during sport, or as simple as lifting a storage box overhead to the top shelf.
Pain from sport or reaching overhead is not because the activity is inherently dangerous, rather accumulated stress results in such an imbalance the brain sends pain as a request for change. Otherwise, a serious structural problem may occur if continuing to ignore the signal.
Body Mechanics: The shoulder needs efficient body mechanics as it relies primarily on its supportive musculature for function. The shoulder joint is a very shallow ball-and-socket — like a golf ball on a tee — and the only bony connection to the torso is where the collarbone meets the chest!
17 different muscles attach to the shoulder blade, while the only bony connection is the clavicle to the sternum.
For various reasons, we have upper trapezius dominance: the propensity to hike the shoulders up toward our ears when utilizing horizontal and vertical push/pull functions. Shoulder hiking is extremely inefficient where accumulative stress causing mechanical neck and shoulder pain is one of the most common causes.
Overuse of a specific function, like a baseball pitcher throwing or a painter painting a ceiling, will cause fatigue of supportive musculature increasing the risk of an imbalance or injury resulting in mechanical pain.
Think about the average desk worker’s day: sit for breakfast, sit in the car to work, sit at the desk, sit for lunch, back to sitting at the desk, sit in the car back home, sit in front of the T.V. — you get the point.
Sitting promotes a forward posture, creating an imbalance in the neck and shoulders which is commonly a cause of mechanical pain.
What You Can Do About Shoulder Pain
With all mechanical pain, there’s a ‘what’ and a ‘why’ — what the problem is and why it’s occurring in the first place. To achieve resolution it’s crucial to not only identify and correct the problem at hand but address the behaviors which lead to the issue’s occurrence. Here are some self-help tips:
- Keep moving
- Avoid sitting for longer than 30-minutes at a time
- Sit with upright posture with lumbar support
- Take micro-breaks: stretch, take a stroll, grab a snack, move around
- Learn proper shoulder & lifting mechanics
- Take mental notes of what you are doing when your pain feels better or worse to identify any behavioral patterns
Still Struggling with Shoulder Pain?
Dr. Jolson can help you find the solution to your issue, whether that’s here at our clinic or referring you to the Greenville physician who can best help you. Dr. J is not your typical chiropractor in Greenville SC – his approach isn’t to just “fix” the problem, rather understand what it is and what it isn’t so the correct treatment is applied to the right problem — only then can we achieve a solution. Why use a hammer if you’re not positive it’s a nail? The last thing you want is to hammer away at a screw!
Dr. Jolson initiates treatment for shoulder pain by utilizing the Mckenzie Method (MDT). MDT is a proven system of examination, treatment, and classification of spinal, joint, and other musculoskeletal pain, backed by years of research, evidence, and practice. The System has been shown to be low cost, fast, and effective even for chronic pain.
Dr. Jolson is also the only chiropractor in South Carolina certified in Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization, which he uses to strengthen the shoulder. He also uses Active Release Technique and other soft tissue therapies like FAKTR & the TheraGun. There are many different approaches to select from and he will find the right tool to get you back to what you love ASAP.