Cracking, popping, grinding, snapping and crunching. We’ve heard all the descriptors of shoulder pain. If you’re one of the many people to have felt or heard one of these as you move your arm around, you’re going to want to read on. First thing we need to figure out is why, and that is one of our jobs as physical therapists.
Shoulder pain is usually induced by movement. The sharp pain that nearly brings us to our knees as opposed to the dull aches of life. People will often say to us, “it’s only when I reach over my head” or “when I reach behind my back”. This is a mechanical problem. What does that mean? The shoulder is a unique part of our body in that it relies on so much help from its neighbors for assistance. The neck, the shoulder blade, the ribcage and the thoracic spine. If something isn’t working right, other structures make up for the slack and contribute. This turns into overuse which then leads to inflammation or tears and ultimately pain. This all plays out in a matter or weeks, months or even years. We’ve heard it a thousand times, “no I never hurt it but it’s just gradually been bothering me more and more the last 6 months”.
So what do you do about it? Well deep down in all of us we like to solve problems. We ask a friend, a co-worker, turn to youtube or online resources. Except not a single one of them knows your exact problem. What works well for one person may not help for another. That’s because even though you have shoulder pain on the front of your shoulder like your aforementioned friend, you have them for entirely different reasons. That is where we come in and it’s something you’re not going to find a solution to having an x-ray or MRI. Imaging may tell you if there’s a problem, not why! Having a physical therapist break down your mobility, range of motion, and strength evaluating you specifically during your movement pattern will tell us, and you, where the problem is.
The next step is what do you do about it? Fortunately we’re here to help. It’s important to realize that no matter how long you think the problem has been going on there is something you can do about it. An evaluation with us will look at all the moving pieces of your shoulder and come up with the reason and solution for your particular pain. There’s lots of good information out there for people to self–diagnose but it may not fully help your particular need. So if you’re ready to get back control of your shoulder, give us a call and we’ll get you started in the right direction.