Shoulder Pain

Shoulder Pain

Shoulder Pain

The two main types of pain that arise in the shoulder region include acute pain brought on by a sudden action and chronic pain that has built up over time and is persistent.

Acute pain can be caused by an accident such as falling, being in a collision, or lifting too much at the gym, or doing too much in a day (like painting the ceiling of a room in one afternoon, I’ve heard that one). The most common of the two would be chronic pain.

Chronic pain stems back to something that is done on a daily basis that wears the region down and leads to pain that doesn’t go away. This is the kind of injury I see often when I get a patient that comes in and when I ask what happened, they respond with, “I don’t know, I just woke up and my shoulder hurt.”

It’s important to know the difference between acute pain and chronic pain when talking about a shoulder because it can change the way they are treated and how long we can expect it to take to get better. The more acute the injury and with early appropriate care the likelihood of fast and full recovery is better. Your more chronic cases, when you’ve waited for it “go away” and now months to years have passed with very little change will take longer to improve.

In either case, DON’T wait! Instead of living with ongoing shoulder pain, there are simple things you can do to reduce the pain and to help fix the problem!

Here’s a quick story about a patient who recently finished her sessions with us.

Rebecca, late 60’s, scheduled a consultation with us after experiencing chronic shoulder pain for over six months.

She enjoys playing with her grandson and the chronic pain in her shoulder was preventing her from keeping up with his active lifestyle and prohibited her from lifting him.

After a few weeks of our personalized one-on-one exercises, Rebecca was able to achieve her goals and drastically reduce the pain in her shoulder. She is back to playing with her grandson and enjoying everyday life again!

Rebecca’s injury stemmed from overuse of the shoulder, as most other shoulder injuries do. Here are a few things that YOU can do to help ease the shoulder pain you might experience throughout the day that can prohibit living a pain-free life.

  1. Use Ice for Pain
    1. When aches and pains arise, it is important to apply ice. It is the best way to reduce this pain quickly. Icing the area for around ten minutes will help lower this irritation.
  2. Use Heat for Stiffness
    1. Have you ever noticed how stiff the body can be when you wake up in the morning? Applying heat when you wake up in the morning will allow the shoulder to move with more ease. Just like applying ice, heat should be applied for around ten minutes as well.
  3. Pillow Count
    1. Are you sleeping with one pillow or two? This problem can often go unnoticed since sleeping with a certain amount of pillows is something that each one of us does subconsciously. If you sleep with two pillows, it is best to shift down to one for the sake of reducing the amount of stretching that can occur between your neck and shoulder when using two. This can strain your muscles while you sleep and lead to chronic pain from the time you wake until you go to bed. By dropping down to one pillow, preferably a soft pillow, you will scale down on the amount of strain that is put on your muscles at night. If you sleep on your side, get a pillow to “hug” with your top arm so it stays supported.
  4. Personalized Physical Therapy
    1. The last and most effective way to ease chronic shoulder pain would be to visit a physical therapist. Getting hands-on treatment with personalized at-home exercises helps to strengthen and relax tight muscles. This one-on-one care proves most suitable in caring for pain that has been persistent.

Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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