Shoulder and arm pain is most commonly caused by the repetitive movements we perform everyday in our work, at home and in sport. Pain affects the shoulder joint and the upper arm but may not originate in the shoulder – it may be referred pain from a problem in the neck (for example).
The Causes of Pain and Loss of Mobility?
Tendons surrounding the shoulder form the rotator cuff that supports the shoulder joint. Wear and tear caused by the activities of daily living such as participating in sport, repetitive tasks at work, even DIY at home, can cause damage to these tendons over time and this is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain in people over 40.
Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that protect the structures surrounding a joint from rubbing against the bone. The bursa in the shoulders can become inflamed and irritated by the same repetitive movements that damage tendons.
Movements of the arm like reaching back, up or down will be painful if tendons or bursae become compressed under the acromion bone at the tip of the shoulder. Inflammation of the bursa can also cause problems with sleeping as lying on the affected side will be painful. In more severe cases, patients will tell us that their arm aches even when it is at rest at their side.
Referred pain is the term we use to describe pain that does not actually arise in the areas that are painful. This can be from the structures of the neck, from nerve pain that can cause pain, weakness, numbness and tingling in the arm, hands and fingers, or from tension, poor posture and repetitive tasks that cause muscle pain in the arm and shoulder stiffness.
Frozen shoulder is another common problem, the reason for which is not fully understood although it does seem to affect more women aged 40-60 and people who have had shoulder surgery or are diabetic. The symptoms develop in three phases over many months. Increasing pain is the first phase followed by the ‘frozen’ stage where increasing stiffness and loss of mobility. During the third phase stiffness and pain decrease.
Arthritis is a common cause of shoulder pain in middle age. It can affect either the acromioclavicular joint at the top of the shoulder or the ball and socket inside the shoulder joint. It can result in reduced mobility and pain and can cause impingement of the tendons and bursae as mentioned above.
How Can Chiropractic Help?
As chiropractors, we are able to answer any questions you may have, explain why you have the symptoms and agree on a treatment plan to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. In addition, we can advise on how to prevent your shoulder and arm pain from recurring.
At Suncoast Chiropractic, your treatment may include:
- Gentle adjustments and soft tissue massage therapy for your joints and muscles.
- Exercises to restore strength and mobility to your arm and shoulder.
- Postural advice to minimise the impact of repetitive movements at home or at work.
It is important to seek a diagnosis from your chiropractor as soon as possible. Understanding the cause of your problem, getting prompt, correct treatment, and knowing what self-help measures are safe for you to take at home, will speed up your recovery time and ensure the best possible outcome for your shoulder and arm pain.
If you are experiencing pain in your shoulders or arms, contact us today on (07) 5492 5588 to discuss how we can help you.