At the first sign of shoulder pain, many wonder, “Did I tear my rotator cuff?” While this does happen from time to time, rotator cuff tears make up a small percentage of actual shoulder problems. Rotator cuff tears usually occur after trauma– -a fall or a car accident– -or after repetitive use of the shoulder in a sport like baseball.
So what causes all of the other cases of shoulder pain? Usually tight muscles, ligaments and tendons around the shoulder or pressure on a nerve in the neck.
In our experience, the two muscles most commonly involved in shoulder pain are the infraspinatus and the upper part of the trapezius. Both of these muscles are affected over time by many of the common activities that we engage in each day; sitting at our desk, driving, and sleeping.
How can we avoid straining the infraspinatus and upper trapezius?
- Anytime you are sitting, watch your posture! Sit up straight.
- Make sure that your workstation is ergonomically sound.
- Do not reach for your mouse or crane your neck to view your monitor.
- At bedtime, try side or back sleeping. Stomach sleeping puts unnecessary strain on the shoulders and neck.
- If you lift weights for exercise, limit overhead shoulder presses. We recommend that patients with shoulder pain avoid overhead presses. If you are over 40, start thinking of alternatives to overhead shoulder presses.
How can pressure on a nerve in the neck affect the shoulder? Put simply, many of the structures of the shoulder receive their nerve supply from spinal nerves exiting through openings in the spine called intervertebral foramen. When there are changes to these intervertebral foramen, the nerve supply to the shoulder is altered, resulting in pain and also loss of range of motion.
How can you be sure what the cause of your shoulder pain is? At Washington Wellness Center, we have decades of experience successfully treating shoulder pain. And since we offer chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture and massage therapy, we have many approaches available to help you. Following a physical examination by one of our providers and possible x-rays of the involved area, we will give you an accurate diagnosis and outline a treatment plan designed to resolve your shoulder problem. Please feel free to give us a call a schedule an appointment with one of our providers. We look forward to helping you get and stay better!