Physical Therapy Offers Relief
A common problem treated in Physical Therapy clinics is cervical pain combined with shoulder pain. The patient may experience radiculopathy into either upper extremity, or pain radiating proximally into the suboccipital region or distally into the spine. As with all effective treatment, addressing the cause of the problem leads to fast, effective relief for our patients.
A primary cause of cervical and shoulder pain is poor posture. Many patients we treat work at a desk or computer terminal for eight or more hours a day, or 2,000 hours per year. With time his or her posture will break down resulting in a forward head, rounded shoulders, and increased thoracic kyphosis. If this process is not addressed, the patient may eventually experience degenerative cervical changes, cervical apophyseal disease, tightening of the anterior cervical musculature, rhomboid and upper trapezius muscle spasms and other permanent postural changes.
Poor Posture Causes Other Problems
Poor postural habits change the angle of the resting scapula on the thoracic cage. This leads to impingement of the rotator cuff muscles (especially the supraspinatus) with shoulder elevation.
Try this yourself:
- Sit with good posture. Shoulder blades are pulled back and down. Low back is slightly arched into lordosis. Eyes are looking forward and level. Chin is up. Raise your arms as high as you can. This typically is close to 160 degrees or near vertical.
- Now sit with poor posture typical of patients we see in our treatment or exam rooms. Slouch your low back. Round your shoulders forward. Let your chin and eyes drop forward. Now try and raise your arms overhead. Most people will experience a 60 degree decrease in range of motion or more.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is the peripheral entrapment of the brachial plexus producing symptoms often mistake for shoulder tendonitis, elbow tendonitis, nerve root pain or musculoskeletal pain of the neck and shoulder.
The Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery (1995:4: 113-117) and JAMA (2004;196: 109-111) reported Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is suspected in cases of a patient history involving upper extremity heaviness or numbness with prolonged postures such as sitting and when laying on the involved side.
If you experience these symptoms, contact New Jersey Institute of Balance to make an appointment.