Oftentimes individuals will ignore a slight recurring pain in their shoulder or arm thinking it will get better on its own. What these individuals don’t know is that shoulder pain can be as minimal as a quick intermittent pain, often described as a sharp catch, but can progress to a more constant, dull ache down the arm. Problems in the shoulder can occur with everyday wear and tear, overuse, or an isolated injury. These pains can be easily treated with physiotherapy where an accurate diagnosis will be stated and the appropriate treatment will be implemented. Why go through your days with an irritating pain when physiotherapy can get you back to your prime?
Where is my pain coming from?
A physiotherapy assessment will allow your physiotherapist to pinpoint the source of your shoulder pain. The source of your pain could be a result of:
- Weakness of the rotatorcuff and shoulder muscles
- Weakness of the shoulder blade muscles, a stiff shoulder joint
- A stiff shoulder joint
- Imbalances between shoulder muscle groups that results in poor arm and shoulder blade movement
- Poor posture, such as an increased rounding of the shoulder blades
- Trauma, such as a fall, involving the arm
EPA’s Path to Improved Health for Shoulder Pain
Your Path to Improved Health will begin with a physiotherapy assessment. This assessment will begin with a general observation from all angles. The general observation allows the physiotherapist to observe your shoulder, shoulder blade, or scapula, positioning. You, the patient, then performs active movements where the physiotherapist will assess movements along the shoulder’s three planes and any pain that results in a decrease in motion on these planes. If there are no range issues, shoulder strength is tested using the same movements used to observe the shoulder’s motion but with slight resistance. Finally, joint glide testing is done where the physiotherapist will do exercises to measure how well the bones making up the joint move relative to each other as stiffness is common. Upon the completion of your assessment, there will be a diagnosis and the physiotherapist will create a treatment plan for your condition.
What will my treatment plan look like?
All treatment plans are unique as every patient is unique. Eramosa Physiotherapy Associates takes pride in their many different treatments for patients. There are two approaches to physiotherapy at EPA – manual or “hands-on” therapy and at home exercise programs. When manually treating the shoulder, the patient will typically be in the clinic for 20 minutes per session receiving any combination of techniques from joint mobilization to exercises to improve joint mechanics. Remember, all treatment plans are unique!
What can I do at home?
Just as the in-clinic treatments, your at home exercise program will be unique as well. Often, people have shoulder pain because their shoulder is not sitting in proper alignment, or not moving properly, because the surrounding muscles are not properly balanced. An at home exercise program for the shoulder often includes strengthening and stretching exercises to target these imbalances. All at home exercise programs are described in detail with pictures for your reference to ensure the exercise plan is followable. The at home exercises first focus on restoring the full range of the shoulder. Once full range is reached, the exercise plan will change to focus on gaining strength. Depending on your typical activities, functional exercises to restore original function are added. For example, a throwing athlete would work on throwing proper form, keeping in mind all the previous exercises they have already mastered.
Keeping You in the Game™
The shoulder is a very mobile joint but is also not as stable as other joints, making it very prone to injury. Prevention is a very important part of any treatment process as the treatment’s end goal is to make sure the injury does not occur again. Keeping your shoulder joint healthy and strong will not only help the initial injury heal, but also set you up for success in the future. The Shoulder Injury Prevention Program, or SHIPP, is an example of one of EPA’s many unique programs for injury prevention. This program focuses on reducing the risk of shoulder injuries and assists the patient in maintaining range of motion, strength, coordination, and neuromuscular control. SHIPP includes active warm-ups along with strength and conditioning work and sport-specific drills (if applicable).
What if my pain does not go away?
Do not fret, we have a solution! If your shoulder pain does not improve in a timely manner based on your diagnosis, we will work with your healthcare provider to request further diagnostic tests. While much less frequent, we also strive to provide you with the best pre- and post-surgical treatment through our Path to Improved Health. EPA’s goal is to return your shoulder back to full function, whether that means return to work, a specific sport or activity, and last but not least, a shoulder-pain-free sleep.
To help keep you on the Path to Improved Health, you will receive a home-based exercise program, similar to the at home exercise plan you had during treatment. This new home-based program will prevent your injury from recurring. Your primary healthcare provider will also receive an overview of changes, improvement of pain, and overall function of your shoulder. EPA will also follow up on your progress after you are discharged from the clinic with a follow-up letter. Should you have any recurrences or would like to have another concern addressed, we invite you to return to the clinic at your convenience.