Shoulder pain and injuries are one of the most common ailments I treat and have treated throughout my career. Shoulder pain can be complicated, or it can be very simple. Every person is different. I’ve had patients who feel better after one session and some who need months of therapy. I believe that most people can heal without surgery, and research backs this up, but having the right therapist with good eyes to see and ears to hear what your complaints are to be able to fix your shoulder pain without surgery. It also takes motivation and compliance by you, the patient, to get better. You must be willing to put in the time to do the exercises that you are being taught, and you must be willing to change your daily habits, at least for the short term, in order to heal.
What I have found over the years is that most shoulder injuries come from some repetitive strain on the shoulder. This could be poor mechanics with throwing a baseball. It could be poor posture while sitting at your computer working all day. It could be compounded by poor technique and posture with lifting weights. Most often it is an imbalance of strength and flexibility in the shoulder from something like those I just mentioned. When these imbalances are reinforced day after day then the shoulder begins to have tissue damage inside the shoulder and that creates pain which is when most people seek medical attention.
Most doctors, general doctors and orthopedic doctors, are going to prescribe pain medication and anti-inflammatory medication as well as have you get an x-ray or MRI. All of this may be helpful, or it may not be. Check out my previous blogs on “Do I need an MRI?” and “Cost savings of Physical Therapy.” Medical doctors really have nothing else to offer. They may suggest trying PT or they may give you an injection into the joint to help with the pain, however these are all short-term solutions.
If your pain is caused by muscle imbalances then none of the above remedies are going to help you truly fix the problem. You need someone who will look at your shoulder movements; look at how you throw a baseball, sit at your desk or lift weights and then get to the root of the problem and begin to correct these imbalances. I often have patients who have been to the doctor, their trainer, and even other physical therapists but still have shoulder pain. This is usually because they are doing exercises incorrectly or they haven’t corrected the root of the problem completely. Many physical therapists miss that final piece of rehab of seeing their patients back in action on the field or in the gym. Many patients can do all the rehab exercises correctly, but they never translate that to how they sit and watch tv or how they throw a baseball.
If you are looking for a healthy shoulder program I offer that on my website for purchase. It is a shoulder flexibility and strengthening program with step by step instructions and progressions, as well as access to videos on the website that demonstrate the exercises. That is a great place to start.
If you are having shoulder pain and need more personalized attention then contact me to set up an appointment where we can look specifically at your shoulder and body mechanics and figure out what is the cause of your pain and then how to correct it.
If you need someone to get you from the 80% better to 90-100% better so you can continue to do the things you love, contact me. It makes me so sad and sick to my stomach when clients tell me their doctor, or worse, their physical therapist, tells them they should never throw a baseball again or they will never be able to lift weights pain free. My job as a physical therapist, a movement specialist, is to figure out how to get you to do those things without damage or pain. I love when I can get people there when they think there is no hope. That is my specialty and my love so contact me when everyone else has told you no.