What's happening with your shoulder pain and why won't it go away?

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So often we see Cypress, TX area athletes come in with nagging shoulder injuries. One of the most common ones is from the rotational movements frequently seen in swimming, volleyball, or throwing sports like baseball where continuous and repetitive overuse of the shoulder happens regularly. Over time we start to see bursitis or impingement develop in the affected shoulder.

The impingement that's happening comes from where the rotator cuff muscles go underneath the AC joint. Because the athlete has lost the proper stability in their shoulder blade, they start to round their shoulders forward and that closes down that space under the AC joint, allowing the muscles to get pinched by the bones above.

Improper technique is one of the primary initiators of this condition, however once it's present, it's pretty easy to aggravate it throughout your day. Even outside of normal training, things like reaching up to a high shelf or reaching out for things in front of you like the car radio can create pain.

The symptoms generally start with localized pain in the front of the shoulder in the deltoid muscle that surrounds the joint. This is especially noticeable when the athlete tries to reach their arm out in front or in an arc up the side of their body. The condition tends to not improve with rest and will decrease strength in the shoulder and overall range of motion.

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Our approach at ProCare Chiropractic is to evaluate the shoulder and determine the limited range of motion and also the other related areas away from the shoulder that are lacking the stability needed in order to allow the shoulder to have full range of motion. Most commonly found are a decrease of rotation in the thoracic spine and a lack of general stability in the scapula.

Treatment consists of adjusting both the thoracic spine and the shoulder, removing any restrictions that have formed due to the abnormal movement pattern. Then Active Release Technique is used for breaking up adhesions that have built up in the muscles involved. After we've gone through and adjusted and treated the muscles, then we look at adding in some mobility and strength training to help improve the overall biomechanics of the shoulder joint. 

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I know everybody's favorite to go to right away to internal and external band rotation exercises, but we want to train those movements last. The first thing that we need to do is start getting mobility back into the thoracic spine and stability back into the shoulder blade. If those two things don't happen first, then any shoulder specific exercises will just continue to irritate and aggravate the shoulder joint because of the lack of stability inward from that shoulder.

Rock tape is another fantastic resource to use with these types of shoulder injuries. It allows us to put the shoulder in good posture and then apply tape in a way that encourages your own muscles and your body to hold itself in better posture under its own power.

So, if you feel like restricted motion in your shoulder or pain in shoulder movement is really holding you back from training or everyday tasks, you should definitely come into the office, we can do a free consultation and a posture analysis that will give you a report on your posture and where we see some deficiencies that could lead to or be, in fact, causing this type of shoulder injury.