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Oh! My aching shoulder!

Does your shoulder…

-hurt or pinch when you reach overhead or lift directly out to your side?

- ache, or wake you up when you try sleeping on it?

- make it harder to reach behind your back to give it that good scratch up between your shoulder blades?

- hurt when you try and throw?

- pinch or get sore after you do repetitive overhead activities like swimming, volleyball or tennis?

These are all early indicators that your shoulder might be stiffening up.

The onset of these symptoms can be traumatic, for example after an acute athletic injury, a fall on an outstretched arm or a direct strain from lifting. These types of symptoms may also present with a delayed onset. A relatively simple shoulder strain or repetitive use months before, which you may have thought had nothing to do with the current pain, may have triggered this ongoing cycle of compensation. Regardless of the onset, if you’re feeling these types of symptoms and pain, your shoulder is telling you: it’s starting to get in trouble.

Shoulder injuries tend to progress in a gradual continuum; starting with painful pinching with overhead movements (impingement) to loss of strength and pain with lifting and increasing pain with repetitive overhead sports (bursitis/tendonosis) to a partial loss of movement, to an eventual significant loss of movement, to a full blown frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis).

Once your shoulder starts to freeze up, you will see a progressive loss of motion in all planes of movement. Initially, you will notice that it’s painful when you reach overhead or out to your side and gradually that you can no longer reach behind your back. In advanced cases, this stiffness can progress to the point that even doing simple tasks like combing your hair and putting on or taking off your shirt becomes restricted and painful. By this stage you can forget about sleeping on your sore side because it’s just too painful! Typically, this continuum of shoulder pain and stiffness can be so gradual that by the time you decide to do something about it your shoulder has become really stiff.

The good news is that the therapists at MCOPT are experts in helping you fix any painful condition of your ailing shoulder.

We will utilize hands-on techniques to identify and treat painful pressure points that are diagnostic of strained muscles in your shoulder, upper back, rib cage or neck that have also tightened up as your shoulder has become stiffer. Treatment of these pressure points will shut off the joint protective reflexes and eliminate the painful muscle spasm that is adding to your stiffness. Because the frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is not only a painful condition, but also an inflammatory condition, the shoulder develops cobwebs (adhesions) inside the actual shoulder joint that bind down the ball and socket making it hard to move or reach with the arm. In order to get your shoulder completely better, it’s imperative to restore the normal range of motion. We will perform hands-on joint mobilization techniques that will break or free up the cobwebs (adhesions) in your shoulder that are causing the painful restriction of movement allowing for the return of normal mobility.

We will instruct you in a specific home exercise program to stretch out your frozen shoulder to expedite and maximize the best results. As the pain and stiffness resolve, you will be ready for rotator cuff and shoulder blade (scapular) stabilization exercises to restore your normal strength levels. Taping techniques, used on the shoulder can also be helpful for further support and to assist in postural correction. Most people find that icing the shoulder at the end of the day is good for pain relief and decreasing inflammation. The combination of all these remedies will usually lead to the best outcomes.

If your painful, stiff shoulder is keeping you up at night, and restricting your ability to lift, reach over head and perform normal recreational activities, dont despair. We at MCOPT can help you!

The therapists at MCOPT can treat your aching shoulder to safely return you to full activities. "You can get better and stay better".

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