Shoulder pain is one of the most common reasons to visit an osteopath. The shoulder is a complex set of structures that must work together to provide a lot of mobility and be strong and stable while performing its many actions.
It is made up of three bones, the humerus (upper arm), the scapula (shoulder blade) and the clavicle (collarbone), and between these are joints which allow movement, the movements are produced by a complex set of muscles in and around the upper body. Pain and limited mobility can be produced when these structures are not working in tandem.
Shoulder pain can come from a variety of structures around the upper body, for example pain can commonly be referred from the neck into the shoulder and upper back. Most shoulder pain is related to muscular fatigue from overdoing an activity such as DIY or a new exercise programme and should clear up in a few days, however if it persists then the more common reasons are;
Rotator cuff strain
This is a tear in the small muscles that stabilise the shoulder resulting in a change in how the joint moves when the arm is raised. It can be due to a specific incident such as catching a heavy object, or a gradual process that stresses the muscles. Often tightness or weakness in the shoulder complex can be a factor in how vulnerable the rotator cuff is to injury.
Changes in posture, or an imbalance in the musculature can result in the humerus moving forwards in the joint leading to pain in the shoulder when it is moved. This can be the result of a previous injury such as a dislocation, tightness and/or weakness in the various muscles that support the position of the shoulder joint complex, and/or a lack of movement at the base of the neck.
The acromio-clavicular joint (A/C joint) is located on the top of your shoulder and is formed by the clavicle and the scapula. It has a small joint surface which must cope with a lot of load over a lifetime meaning it can become painful if overworked. The cartilage on the joint surface may wear out leading to the body replacing it with rough edged bone (a spur). This rough edge can catch on surrounding tissues as they pass between the A/C joint and the humerus when the arm is raised, producing pain.
Adhesive Capsulitis (frozen shoulder)
This is a chronic painful condition that leads to restricted movement in the shoulder joint. It can often appear first like a muscle strain but progressively gets more stiff and painful until most actions of the shoulder are problematic. This condition mostly resolves on its own but can take between nine months and two years.
Osteopaths are highly trained to assess, diagnose and treat various shoulder problems, we can help you find out what structure in the shoulder is causing the pain and why it has become a problem. Once we have found the source we can perform techniques such as joint articulation and massage that, when coupled with carefully prescribed exercises, have been shown to be effective in treating shoulder pain.
We can also advise you on why certain activities may be contributing to your shoulder pain and then supply you with exercises or advice on how to stop your symptoms reoccurring.
For example, if it is a very specific action such as throwing then we can investigate the biomechanics of that action and improve it via manual therapy and exercises. If you feel pain while or after working or driving we can investigate how your workstation or driving position may be affecting your symptoms.
If you are in a lot of pain then our 45 minute, new patient consultation not only provides the assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan but includes your first treatment so that you can start on your road to recovery immediately.
Do you want to know what is causing your pain and if we can help? Why not take advantage of our new patient assessment introductory offer to get you started towards a tailor made recovery plan for only £19.
Are you in a lot of pain and want to get better as soon as possible? If so then why not book in for a new patient consultation, with treatment on the day, for £60.
We are also there to help you from home. Take a look at our suite of exercise resources and advice sheets which you can easily download and use from home.
Sources for this text
At Align our focus in on providing expert, up to date care to patients in Bath and the surrounding areas to help them relieve their pain and achieve the most active life possible. Here are just a few of the ways we do this;
- We support your recovery, tailoring your treatment to your goals and a pace that works for you
- We combine exercise and hands on treatment giving you control over your recovery
- Our team of friendly, experienced osteopaths are available when you need us
- Our treatment is clinically based, practical and delivers tangible results
- We offer a low cost new patient assessment for just £19 so you can see for yourself who we are and how we work, with no obligation or risk
- We are continually researching new methods of treatment and where appropriate adapting our practices
- We can provide treatment quickly and offer an easy online booking system so you can arrange the help you need when it suits you
Still unsure? Don’t take our word for it, read some of the feedback from patients about how we have made a difference to their lives below.