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Shoulder Issues Can Throw Us Off

shoulder discomfort

By Angie Austin, LPTA

Shoulder issues like pain and weaknesses are some of the most common reasons people seek help from a physical therapist. The design of the shoulder is a ball and socket joint. The rounded head of the humerus articulates with the cup like depression of the scapula, giving it a wide degree of movement. That’s why the shoulder is often easily injured. This joint is held together by an extensive group of muscles and ligaments that can be weakened by  certain repetitive movements. Most of the problems that occur with the shoulder actually involve the muscles, tendons and ligaments rather than the bones. It’s not    surprising that because of how much movement the shoulder has, athletes are more susceptible to shoulder injuries due to repetitive overhead training that many sports require. However, overtime, we are all susceptible to shoulder injuries from everyday tasks.

Rotator Cuff Tears

A rotator cuff (RTC) tear occurs when the muscle or tendon is torn whether partial or full thickness. The role of the rotator cuff is to keep the ball of your upper arm bone, (humerus) safely within the shallow shoulder socket of the shoulder. The RTC is a group of four muscles and tendons that     surround the joint to control its movement and stability. People that perform repetitive overhead activity in their sport or job are more susceptible to this injury.

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tears:

The pain associated with a rotator cuff tear is often described as a dull ache that originates deep in the shoulder. It may also be accompanied by       weakness or pain in the arm and can cause difficulty or inability to reach behind your back or overhead. Often, the pain will disturb your sleep, especially when you’re lying on the injured  shoulder.

Dislocated Shoulder/Shoulder Instability:

This is a condition in which the upper part of the shoulder bone pops/slides out of its socket. Often times when ligaments, tendons and muscles become loosened, or more commonly, weakened, the unstable shoulder is more susceptible to injury.

 Symptoms of a Dislocated Shoulder/Shoulder  Instability:

There will be pain associated with movement almost as if your shoulder is going to slide or “pop out” of place. You can also experience muscle spasms in your shoulder or neck as a result of the injury. In severe cases, you can visibly see the dislocation and you won’t be able to move your arm.

Shoulder Impingement/Rotator Cuff Tendinitis:

Both athletes and middle aged people experience shoulder symptoms from repetitive movements. These are most likely due to poor postural positioning or a change in the mechanics of a overhead movement due to muscular fatigue.

Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement/Rotator Cuff Tendinitis:

You’ll typically experience soreness/inflammation in the front of the shoulder. It’s common to also feel pain and stiffness when lifting objects or reaching  behind your back. You may also have pain when you’re lying down, especially on the affected side.

If you are having any pain or loss of function in your shoulder, don’t hesitate to have one of our physical therapists take a look at it right away and get you back to your regular activities. CALL 703-450-4300 TODAY. CLICK HERE for a video that will interest you about how the body processes aches and pains.