When your shoulders are sore, even everyday activities like brushing your hair, driving or reaching for something in the cupboard can cause pain. That’s when you have to develop healthy habits to protect your shoulders from injury to remain mobile. Your shoulders form the crux from where all your arm movements begin. Each shoulder is made up of a complex system of:
- Bursa sacs
Everything needs to work together seamlessly for pain-free upper body mobility. When you protect your shoulders with proper lifting techniques, sufficient exercise, stretching and good posture, you don’t even realize how many moving parts are involved with your arm movements.
Causes of Shoulder Pain
A shoulder injury from playing sports or a car accident can lead to pain. Other painful issues can result from aging process or poor lifestyle habits. When you visit your Southeaster Spine Institute (SSI) shoulder specialist, a complete medical history, coupled with imaging tests and a hands-on examination, gives your doctor clues to the cause of your shoulder problems. Commonly, shoulder pain results from:
- Osteoarthritis. This degenerative disorder wears down the cartilage between the bones in your shoulders. It can develop from an old injury or merely wear-and-tear over time. Osteoarthritis usually leads to stiffness and aching in the back of your shoulder. Treatment ranges from physical therapy to shoulder replacement surgery in a worst-case situation.
- Rotator cuff tear. The tendons in your shoulders can tear from a single event like a fall, repeated overuse or just age. The pain in your shoulder usually is most acute at night, making it hard for you to sleep. Treatment ranges from ice and rest to corticosteroid injections or surgery.
- Rotator cuff injury. These types of shoulder injuries happen from overuse, leading to conditions such as tendinitis, bursitis and strains. Playing tennis, doing yoga, painting and participating in other activities in which you frequently use your arms overhead can lead to rotator cuff injuries. Your shoulder usually feels stiff and the pain typically is located on the side or front of your shoulder.
Once your shoulder starts hurting, seek medical treatment for an accurate diagnosis. Protect your shoulders from further injury by taking a break from the damaging activity and using over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine, which usually relieves these types of injuries.
Tips to Protect Your Shoulders
Your SSI doctor always begins treatment with the least invasive techniques, reserving surgery as a last resort. Additionally, your physical therapist and shoulder specialist encourage you to take steps to avoid aggravating and re-injuring your shoulders. Protect your shoulders daily by:
- Paying attention to your posture while both sitting and standing
- Strengthening your shoulders with exercises targeting your rotator cuff and should blade muscles
- Stretching your shoulder muscles as well as the muscles in the front of your chest, called the pectorals
- Stopping an activity that’s causing you shoulder pain
- Eating healthy so that you can participate in appropriate exercises while not adding strain on your shoulders with extra pounds
- Watching the way you perform tasks that involve your arms
- Avoiding long reaches that lead to strains
- Staying away from activities that require excessive daily repetitive motions
- Wearing protective equipment recommended for your sports
- Consulting your SSI shoulder specialist when shoulder pain lasts longer than a couple days