All Posts Tagged: shoulder pain

3 Ways to Beat Achy Shoulders

Do you find your shoulders aching at the end of the day or when having to lift your arms? Whether your pain is from an old injury or just from moving all day long, try these simple techniques to feel better and stronger.

Why Your Shoulders Hurt

Your shoulders are the most complicated joints in your body and one of the most easily injured. They have to move through an incredible 180 degrees of motion, while still maintaining stability and strength. Some of the most important muscles in the shoulder are actually the smallest.

The rotator cuff is a series of 4 muscles that form a cuff around the shoulder (glenohumeral) joint. Although they are small, they are vital to guiding how the shoulder joint moves. When these muscles are weak or injured, the head of the humerus bone can jam up into the socket of the shoulder blade, causing inflammation and pain.

Try these simple actions to improve the health of your shoulders and alleviate that nagging ache or sharp pain for good.

Keep your shoulders aligned by doing postural exercises – The number one reason for repetitive injury and pain in the shoulders is poor posture. With prolonged slouching, the shoulders protrude forward changing the mechanics of the way your shoulders move. This weakens your rotator cuff and shoulder blade (scapula) muscles. It predisposes you to injury.

Strengthen your rotator cuff muscles – By keeping your rotator cuff muscles strong, you help guide your shoulder joints throughout the day, lessening the chance for injury and inflammation to occur. A simple exercise to perform is lying on your side with your top arm straight up towards the ceiling. Now slowly lower the arm down towards your hip, but not all the way, then back up to the ceiling. Repeat 10-15 times for 2 sets every other day. Stay within a pain free range of movement. Stop if you have any pain or talk to one of our physical therapists if you have any questions.

Improve your scapula stability – The scapula (shoulder blade) is a part of your whole shoulder complex. It has many different muscles attached to it, pulling at just the right time for proper shoulder movement. Every time you reach, pick up or pull, you use your scapula. Improve the stability of them by performing scapula exercises. A simple exercise is standing against a wall and gently trying to pinch your shoulder blades together, while keeping your arms relaxed. Perform 10-15 repetitions, holding the contraction for 5 seconds.

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Rotator Cuff

Rotator Cuff Tear Recovery Tips

Rotator cuff injuries are very common, especially for those who use their arm in a repetitive motion, those who do heavy lifting, and those who are over 40.  To properly recover from this injury and avoid surgery, you must listen to your Physical Therapist and follow the plan of care that has been customized for you so that you can heal.  It is important to strengthen and increase the flexibility of the muscles surrounding the shoulder. It is equally important to rest and use ice to keep these muscles receptive to the therapy.

Your Rotator Cuff Muscles

Understanding about this injury will enable you to understand and accept the treatment plan that will be put into place so that you can heal.

Your shoulder is made up of three bones:  your upper arm bone, your shoulder blade, and your collarbone.  The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. The ball of your upper arm fits into the socket of your shoulder blade.  Your arm is kept in this socket by your rotator cuff. The rotator cuff consists of four muscles and their tendons that stabilize the shoulder. These are the muscles that allow you to rotate your shoulder.  Your shoulders allow you to do many things that are taken for granted:  lifting your arms above your head, combing your hair, playing catch, reaching into the back seat of your car, and swimming…just to name a few.  There is also a sac called a bursa that allows your arm to move freely. When the rotator cuff is injured or damaged, the bursa becomes inflamed and painful which will be diagnosed as bursitis.  “Itis” means inflammation.

A ‘torn’ rotator cuff means you have torn though one or more of the four muscles or tendons.  Typical signs for this kind of injury would be pain. Any shoulder pain should never be ignored.  When diagnosed with a rotator cuff injury, a tear is not always the case. You might have strained the muscle or tendon.  If you do not get therapy for the strain, it could lead to a tear. Torn rotator cuffs have swelling and loss of full range of motion.  If you cannot raise your arm half as far as you used to before the pain started, there is something seriously wrong.

Remember This

Physical Therapy improves strength, flexibility, and range of motion.  Therapy will help alleviate the pain, and your therapist will work with you using light weights, but you must continue your plan of care to achieve optimal results to be pain and surgery free.  Your therapist will give you all the tools to work at home safely so you do not hurt yourself. It is important to remember that this is not a ‘workout’ but a strengthening process. Keeping your shoulder immobilized (without movement) for prolonged periods of time can lead to the thickening and tightening of the the connective tissue causing further complications (frozen shoulder).  It is important to not only strengthen and exercise the front muscles, but you must work the entire shoulder area, front and back, to get and keep your muscles balanced. It is imperative that stretching and strengthening is done every day at home and not only when you are at the therapy office so that you can gain your range of motion back.

Some key factors to remember while you are working to heal your shoulder injury:

  • Consult your therapist to use the correct weight
  • Always use light weights
  • Use the warm up routine provided by your therapist before each session
  • Remember this is therapy and not a workout
  • Patience is needed as you undergo healing
  • Consult with your therapist if you wish to use resistance bands
  • Resistance bands come in different degrees, and  you want to be sure you are not overdoing it
  • Ice your shoulder after every therapy session and make sure to get adequate rest
  • You are still able to do lower body exercises, but you must make sure your shoulders are not involved at all
  • A rotator cuff injury is serious, but it is not one that cannot heal with proper therapy and patience  
  • Slow and steady always wins the race!
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What You Need to Know About Shoulder Pain

Though most of us take our shoulders for granted, they’re important parts of our bodies. From typing at our computer and driving to putting away groceries and going to bed at night, our shoulders are used for many daily tasks. However, they’re complex organic structures that can be subject to damage and pain. If a shoulder does begin to hurt, it can be difficult to think about anything else.

If you’re experiencing persistent pain in one of your shoulders, there are a number of potential causes, including bursitis, tendonitis, osteoarthritis, and a whole slew of dysfunctional diseases. But perhaps the most common reason people seek treatment for their shoulder is for rotator cuff tears, a problem that afflicts nearly 2 million Americans each year.

Your shoulder is composed of three bones linked together in a ball-andsocket joint, with everything supported by a collection of four muscles called the rotator cuff. The whole setup is remarkably complex, working perfectly — until it doesn’t. If any of the rotator cuff tendons become torn or frayed, the rotator cuff can no longer attach completely to the bones, leading to all kinds of dysfunction and severe, debilitating pain.

These tears usually occur from falling down on your outstretched arm, lifting something too heavy, or a gradual deterioration of the muscles. Symptoms almost always include severe pain, even when resting or sleeping, that spikes when lifting or lowering the arm. Some serious cases may cause general muscle weakness and an inability to lift the arm at all.

Luckily, if you have a rotator cuff injury, you don’t have to tolerate chronic pain. While some intense cases will require surgery to correct, it’s important to consult a physical therapist before going under the knife. Contact the experts at New Jersey Institute of Balance today and take the first step toward eliminating shoulder pain for good

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The Domino Effect of Neck Pain

Cervical and Shoulder Pain CaNeck Painn Cause Other Problems

One of the most common problems we treat at the New Jersey Institute of Balance is cervical pain, coupled with shoulder pain.

Poor posture, combined with a 9-to-5 desk job, leads to a breakdown in body structure. The head starts to lean forward, the shoulders become rounded, and the problem only gets worse. Pain will radiate from nerves in the displaced cervical disc, spreading into the rest of the neck, often moving all the way out into the shoulders and the upper back. If cervical problems are not
addressed early enough, it’s almost certain to lead to other problems, including permanent posture changes.

To see how poor posture can lead to other problems, try these two exercises:

  1. Sit in a chair, with your shoulder blades pulled back and down. Make sure your lower back is slightly arched and your eyes are looking forward and level. In this pose, raise your arms as high as you can, typically close to 160 degrees or even vertical.
  2. Now, sit with poor posture. Slouch your lower back and round your shoulders forward. Let your chin and eyes drop forward. In this pose, try to raise your arms overhead. Most people will
    experience at least a 60 degree decrease in range of motion when compared to the same exercise with good posture.

Poor posture is more than a nuisance. It can cause a domino effect of health issues throughout your body. Don’t let cervical pain or shoulder pain hinder your posture, leading to a long list of health issues.

Contact New Jersey Institute of Balance and schedule a free consultation today!

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Successful Treatments for Cervical and Shoulder Pain

Cervical and Shoulder PainPhysical 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


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