Is Your Shoulder a “Sore” Subject?

Is Your Shoulder a “Sore” Subject?

Your shoulder is an amazingly complex joint that serves to help you perform many of your normal activities throughout the day. The shoulder joint is made up of muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments that all work together to give you full range of motion and strength. Imagine the things that you would be unable to do if you could not reach up over your head or behind your back. An injury to this joint can cause pain, weakness, and loss of full function which can limit your ability to perform everyday tasks such as getting dressed, reaching, and driving.

The main support for your shoulder is the rotator cuff, a group of four muscles that stabilize the joint during movement. The muscles that make up the rotator cuff are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor. These are the primary structures that hold your upper arm (humerus) to the shoulder blade (scapula). Any injury to the rotator cuff can disrupt the mechanics of the shoulder and in turn cause pain, weakness, and limited motion in the shoulder. Other injuries to the shoulder can include tendonitis of the biceps tendon, inflammation of the bursa (bursitis), frozen shoulder, or a fracture.

Injury to the shoulder can occur by traumatic or non-traumatic means. A traumatic injury can be sustained in a car accident, dislocation, or a fall, while a non-traumatic injury occurs over time for reasons such as overuse, bone spurs, or poor posture. Sometimes, shoulder pain can occur with no obvious cause. Continuing activity with a shoulder or rotator cuff injury can increase the severity of the injury, as most rotator cuff injuries will not heal on their own.

So what should you do about a sore shoulder? Early treatment can prevent further injury, help to reduce pain, and restore full function. Initially, rest and applying ice can help to reduce soreness. After a few days, you can begin stretches and exercises to improve strength and range of motion of the shoulder. If you continue to have pain after several days, it could indicate a more serious injury, and a visit to your doctor or healthcare provider is recommended. The doctor can recommend the most appropriate treatment option according to the severity of your injury.

Often, physical therapy will be recommended for treatment of a shoulder injury. The physical therapist will perform an evaluation to determine the cause of pain and limitations, and will establish a treatment plan to address the problem. Physical therapy treatment can consist of modalities to reduce pain and inflammation, hands-on techniques for improving range of motion, and therapeutic exercise for strengthening. The therapist may also be able to help you pinpoint the underlying cause of your shoulder pain, such as poor posture or faulty mechanics. You should soon begin to notice an improvement in your symptoms.

A sore shoulder can be caused by something a simple as a hard day’s work or an awkward sleeping posture, but if the pain persists for more than a few days, it could indicate a more serious injury. For more information on shoulder pain or injury, contact DeSoto Physical Therapy at (318) 775-9870 in Stonewall or email