Shoulder pain can show up in a myriad of ways. For some, it decides to wake up in the middle of the night with a dull throbbing pain. For others, it arrives after several hard baseball throws, leaving a dead arm. It can persist anytime a weight is pressed overhead or even sitting for a prolonged time. In other words, much of the shoulder pain in this world is insidious, but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence.
In fact, it doesn’t have to be much of a bother at all. Many shoulder pathologies tend to resolve on their own like most injuries. The body is extraordinarily good at healing. For those that seem to never go away or get worse, there’s usually a simple answer. However, like all my posts, finding that answer requires an examination.
What does each pathology look like?
In our clinic, we see most pain comes from the joint, muscle/tendon pain, bursae, and/or motor control dysfunction. All of these injuries can result in very similar pain feelings, but each has a distinct characteristic that can help separate each diagnosis. Joint injuries will follow a certain pattern of range of motion restrictions and most often cause pain while sleeping. Muscle/tendon and bursae pain can be painful with resistive testing, but bursal injuries tend to associate with a painful arch. Motor control can show a positive impingement test AND produce secondary tendon pain. No matter how you look at these injuries, there is more than likely a simple solution that is not surgery or injections (although both can be indicated).
If you’re experiencing shoulder pain that doesn’t seem to go away, don’t become frustrated. There is help. Learn what you can do through a complete diagnosis by a physical therapist.
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