There’s nothing worse than waking up the day after a workout and realizing that your body isn’t working as well today as it was the day before. While maintaining an active lifestyle is the best way to keep your body strong and healthy, occasionally, when you work your body the wrong way, you can injure yourself inadvertently. Shoulder pain is one common result. Whether you’re experiencing sharp pain when you move in a certain way or stiffness that’s preventing you from moving at all, we can help you get back on track. Here are the five most common causes of shoulder pain and information on what to do for each of them.
Shoulder Blade Pain
If you’re mainly feeling pain in your shoulder blade, you may actually be experiencing referred pain from any of the muscles surrounding your shoulder blade. These can also include the muscles in your neck or upper arm. In fact, referred pain from the neck that’s felt in the shoulder is so common that it has its own name: Cloward Sign. Many providers mistake this shoulder blade pain referral as a shoulder problem. Because of this, the cause of the problem is not treated and pain continues to come and go over time.
Often, you’ll get this if you sleep in a weird position or push your head too far through the “hole” while completing an overhead press. Shoulder blade pain can be worse with turning your neck, reaching overhead, and pushing motions. This pain may go away on its own within a few days. Unfortunately, when left untreated or treated improperly, this condition is both nagging and frustrating. If this pain doesn’t go away, you’ll want to reach out to a medical professional trained in managing this condition.
Repeated overhead motion, including weight lifting, CrossFit, swimming, or playing tennis, can cause a condition known as shoulder impingement. If you have shoulder impingement, you’ll notice pain when you do certain motions. These include reaching overhead, pushing up, reaching across your body or behind you back to put on your jacket.
Shoulder impingement is caused by the tendons or bursa in your shoulder being impinged by the bones in your shoulder. Generally, this is caused by underlying weakness in your scapular muscles and rotator cuff muscles. This underlying weakness forces your shoulder to move in unusual ways and compensate causing pain.
Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
Inflammation in the tendons surrounding your shoulder can cause a condition known as rotator cuff tendinitis. Rotator cuff tendinitis is very common in athletes who perform repetitive motions over time. Athletes like pitchers, tennis players, CrossFit enthusiasts, and swimmers often fall into this category. The most common symptoms of rotator cuff tendinitis include pain, aching, weakness in the shoulder muscles, and loss of shoulder motion.
Luckily, rotator cuff tendinitis is very treatable, and most people are able to regain previous activities if managed appropriately. Peak Physiotherapy and Performance manages rotator cuff tendinitis with load management, corrective exercises, activity modification, dry needling, and massage.
If you’ve recently been laid up by surgery or illness, you may be at risk for a condition called frozen shoulder. Frozen shoulder diminishes your range of motion and can take months, or even years, to recover from. Generally, it starts as pain and stiffness that keeps you awake at night. Over time, while the pain may decrease, stiffness will become worse before it becomes better.
Recovering from frozen shoulder takes a combination of physical therapy and time. Physical therapy is focused on regaining function of the shoulder: reaching overhead, putting on your jacket, sleep positioning, and self management. Peak Physiotherapy and Performance treats frozen shoulder with a combination of shoulder stretching, dry needling, and home exercises.
Holding your ball-and-socket joint in place is a layer of tissue and cartilage. If the cartilage tears—usually as a result of exercise or trauma to the joint—it’s known as a labrum tear. Notoriously hard to diagnose, most people describe the pain of a labrum tear as a dull ache. You may also notice painful clicking and popping in your shoulder joint. If you lift weights, you may feel shoulder fatigue, weakness or buckling when you press overhead.
Repairing a labrum tear requires physical therapy to restore your shoulder range of motion, improve shoulder strength and regain overhead stability. During this time, you may need to avoid or modify painful movements to give your shoulder time to recover. After physical therapy has been completed, you’ll be able to get back to your normal activities.
Healing from Shoulder Pain
Shoulder pain can be debilitating, and, if left untreated, it may get worse instead of better. At Peak Physiotherapy and Performance we treat shoulder pain in active adults and athletes every single day. After determining the cause of your problem, we use a wide range of techniques, such as dry needling, corrective exercise, joint manipulation, cupping and other therapies to get you back to doing the things you love, staying active without pain. Have you been struggling with shoulder pain and just don’t know where to go or what to do next? Contact us today to schedule a free phone consultation.
About the Author
Dr. Andrew Junak is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Board-Certified Orthopedic Specialist. Dr. Junak received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Walsh University and completed his Orthopedic Specialist training at the Cleveland Clinic Orthopaedic Residency Program. He is the owner of Peak Physiotherapy and Performance, a physical therapy clinic in Canal Winchester, Ohio where he serves the local communities of Lancaster, Reynoldsburg, Grove City, Pickerington, and Columbus. In his practice, Dr. Junak helps clients with jaw pain, neck pain, and headaches find relief without resorting to medications, injections, or surgery.