Your Most Pressing Shoulder Questions Answered!!!
Today we are going to address a few questions that we frequently get regarding shoulder pain and some of the answers that we frequently give our patients in the clinic. I shot a video of me talking through the questions so if you want to watch it please click here.
One of the most frequent things that we hear is that people have shoulder pain but they really don’t know what they did. They didn’t really have an injury, but their shoulder hurts. We actually see this with lower back, knee and neck pain but today we’re talking about the shoulder.
It could be something as simple as waking up and you’ve got pain in the shoulder but not really sure what you did, and it just continues to nag and ache. The pain could be anywhere from the side of the shoulder to the front, it could be running up into the neck, and sometimes it even runs down into the arm just a little bit.
If that’s the case, what should you do? Should you just run out to the doctor? Should you run and get an MRI? Do you need to go get an X-ray? Do you have to have surgery? I’ll hopefully answer a few of those questions today.
One of the first things you can do if you are having some pain is understand that the tissue is angry. The body is irritated and it’s mad, and likely there is some type of inflammation in there. One of the easiest ways to help control the inflammation is just ice the joint. If you have pain that is acute, within the first 72 hours, about three days, ice tends to work the best. After that, I like a mild heat pack, because that’s gonna help increase the blood flow to that area, help carry off some of those inflammatory agents that your body produces, and that blood flow also helps with the healing process. So, in the first 72 hours, go ahead and ice the joint.
If you don’t have some type of kidney or stomach issue or liver issue, then you can also supplement that with a little bit of ibuprofen or Tylenol. There’s also some really good over-the-counter homeopathic type remedies that you can do, so you can look some of those up on the web. I’ll try to find some of those names for you, and I’ll post those in this video as well. Curcumin is one of them, and arnica is another one.
There are also some other natural rubs and creams that you can use on that shoulder. Really what the rubs and creams do is they help block the pain. If you can imagine hundreds of pain signals traveling up to your brain to tell you that you’re hurt. And let’s just use an arbitrary number, let’s say that once those pain signals reach 100, then it registers in your brain that you have pain. And so, you’ve done something to the shoulder and now those sensors are to 120.
Well, if you put ice or heat or icy hot rub or something like that on that shoulder, what that does is then that starts to increase the amount of good signals that come up to the brain, and it starts to shut down those painful signals. So, really it’s not getting deep down into the tissues to really fix the problem, but it is starting to mask and block the pain just a little bit. So, that is helpful. I definitely recommend that, because nobody wants to walk around in pain.
The next question that we get a lot is, “My shoulder hurts, and how do I sleep, because I have to still get up and work or take care of the kids or go to school?” What do you do in that case?
The first thing you wanna do is try to avoid sleeping on that shoulder. You can do that by using several different pillows in bed to block you. You can maybe sleep on the other side of the bed. Blocking your body with some towel rolls or pillows seems to be the best. The next thing is, if you have a recliner, go sleep in the recliner. Being in that slight incline position, can prevent you from rolling over on to that side.
“What else do I need to do to prevent this from getting worse or making the problem even more involved?”
The first thing with shoulder pain is, you wanna avoid reaching overhead and even carrying or lifting heavy objects with that arm. Now, I know that sounds like common sense, but a lot of times people will forget and they’ll reach up into the cabinet just to get a glass or a coffee cup. Reaching up will irritate the tendons and the bursa, essentially all the soft tissue that’s in the middle of that shoulder joint. When the bursa or tendons get irritated, then the pain continues to get worse. Ultimately you want to avoid irritating that tissue within the joint.
“How long will my shoulder pain last?”
It depends. Did you really do something to injure the shoulder? Or is it a long-standing problem that now it’s decided to flare up and give you symptoms. Or did you really tear something from a major fall or lifting something heavy?
Ideally, within the first two to three weeks, the pain starts to subside and you can start to regain some type of mobility and strengthening type program. If the pain is continuing to last after a couple of weeks, and you’re not getting any significant relief, then that’s the best time to maybe look at doing some type of therapeutic injections
You also want to make sure you’re doing some formal therapy at that point. This is obviously something we can help you with here at the clinic. Because the longer you just let it sit and just rest the longer it’s gonna take since you’re not truly addressing the problem.
So, if you just sit back and let it heal on its own, that’s fine. But what happens a lot of times, when it heals on its own, you end up coming back a little bit weaker, and you also come back with decreased mobility in the shoulder. And it’s a slight subtle change that most people don’t recognize, but what happens is, then it sets you up to have this problem again and again and again, because you didn’t really address the underlying problem and you didn’t fully restore your strength and your mobility.
We recommend that you go through The MAGICAL 5 Phases of Healing we developed to ensure the problem gets properly addressed. See my previous blog on shoulder injury, and recovery.
“Do I need an X-ray or MRI?”
This is a very common question that we get here in the clinic, and the answer to that is usually NO. If you’ve not had some type of traumatic onset, like throwing a ball or lifting really heavy bags of feed then an MRI might be necessary. If you have not had a major injury then more than likely an MRI is going to show some normal degenerative changes, wear and tear within the joint, and it won’t tell you as much as you would think.
In some cases it may be a false positive, meaning the MRI says the tendon is torn and the surgeon says you need surgery. However once he goes in there he finds out the tendon is fine. MRI’s are good but not perfect and can actually provide misleading information.
An X-ray is only useful if you’ve had a fall, and you want to rule out a fracture. Other than that, you’re just really looking at the bones and it’s hard to see any of the soft tissue in there. So, an X-ray is rarely necessary unless, again, you’ve had some major trauma, a fall or car accident.
What do we recommend you do when you have shoulder pain?
Rest it for a couple of days, maybe take an anti-inflammatory, something natural, use some ice. After about 2-3 days we advise you to gently get back to normal use of the shoulder. Very easily start to work back into your full range of motion. Start to reach overhead, across your body and out to the side. Go easy and don’t push into the pain. This isn’t a situation where no pain, no gain is what you’re trying to do, because if you do that you’ll continue to irritate the tissue. And then if you continue to irritate the tissue, then what happens is the pain just continues to get worse and it continues to cycle back and forth. So, you certainly want to avoid that.
The next thing is doing some general range of motion, some gentle strengthening type exercises. In the clinic, we have some other things available. We can do deep tissue laser, which helps speed up the healing process. Deep tissue lasers use light to penetrate into those inflamed tissues to reduce that inflammation and pain. This is completely drug free and natural without any side effects. It works really well. And if there’s some tight muscles in and around the shoulder joint, then we can also use therapeutic dry needling. It’s a form of acupuncture to help reduce the local pain that helps take tension off of those tendons within the rotator cuff and allows them to heal.
If you’re experiencing some shoulder pain and discomfort, and you’re not sure what is going on,or what you should do about it? Contact the clinic 817-220-6677 or send an email to (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We’ll be more than happy to do a FREE Shoulder PT checkup (we call this a discovery visit). It’s about a 20-minute visit with myself or one of our other doctors of physical therapy. We’ll evaluate your shoulder, ask you a few simple questions to see what’s going on and see what’s the best course of action for you.
Also coming up on February 6th, we have an educational seminar:
Declare Your Own Personal Victory Over Shoulder Pain and Get A Grip On Your Pain Before It Gets Out Of Hand
Learn How To Stop Chronic, Daily Nagging Shoulder Pain WITHOUT Injections and Dangerous Painkillers!
You can register here:
If you’re not really sure what to do, but maybe you have some questions and just wanna learn a little bit more about the shoulder, and what we do here at the clinic, then feel free to register for that workshop as well. You can call the clinic, 817-220-6677, to get registered, or simply click the link above.
Hopefully, this has been helpful. If you have some other questions or comments, please leave them down below or reply to the email that you receive, and we’ll be more than happy to answer those in the next video series. Thank you.