This blog post was updated for content on July 27, 2020. Any existing comments were not removed or edited.
Millions of people suffer from shoulder pain. Since it is such a common condition, experts have developed exercises and other treatments to expedite your recovery.
Many suffering with shoulder pain
A study in the United Kingdom found that 2.36% of the population visit the doctor about their shoulder pain each year. Out of the 322 million people in the United States, assuming similar occurrence, there should be about 7.6 million people in that category.
That estimate is backed up by statistics from the CDC, which notes that 1.5 million people visit the emergency room in the United States each year because of shoulder pain. Plus, that figure doesn’t even include people who don’t get professional care.
In other words, millions of Americans are suffering from this condition. The good news is that there are exercises and other treatment strategies you can use to restore function and achieve pain relief.
Causes of Shoulder Pain
The shoulder is a complex joint where the upper arm, should blade, and collarbone meet. Because it is a ball and socket joint, it can rotate in a full circle. However, for it to work properly, it needs support from many other tissues, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.
Because of the wide variety of structures in the shoulder, pain may not be due to a sudden accident. Overuse of any parts over time can cause serious discomfort and stiffness. Here are some of the common causes of shoulder pain:
- Arthritis - osteoarthritis doesn’t just happen in hips and knees. It also occurs in shoulders when the cartilage between the bones wears away. Osteoarthritis can limit range of motion and be highly painful.
- Impingement - the rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that connect the bones in the shoulder socket. An impingement involves inflammation of these tendons or compression of the fluid-filled sac that cushions the location where the bones meet.
- Rotator Cuff Tear - this is a similar injury to impingement, but instead of inflammation of the tendons, there is an actual tear. If the joint is weak in addition to the pain, there may be a tear.
- Tendinitis - tendinitis is the swelling of a tendon that can be caused by repeated injury or overuse.
- Sprain or Strain - this kind of shoulder instability occurs when the supporting structures are overstretched or torn.
- Frozen Shoulder - this is when your shoulder becomes so inflamed that it becomes quite difficult to move it, making every day tasks a challenge.
Exercises to Help
Whether your shoulder pain is from osteoarthritis, or impingement, here are some exercises that can help to relieve the pain. (Note: always seek a physician before beginning a new exercise routine, especially if you suspect the injury may be a tear or sprain.)
Stand with your feet at shoulder-width. Tighten your abs. Breathe out. Roll your shoulders forward to complete an entire circle, and then reverse for a full rotation.
Lie on the ground facing the ceiling, arms to your sides. Your knees should be bent, and your feet should be flat. Contract your abs. Bring your arms up over your head so that they make a diagonal, forming a “Y” with your spine as the stem.
“Keep your elbows straight and do not arch your back,” explains LiveStrong. “Continue to extend your arms until your thumbs touch the floor.” Maintain the pose for 30 seconds, and then go back to your original position. Do three repetitions.
Frozen shoulder stretch
Inflammation in the shoulder can sometimes lead to adhesive capsulitis, a.k.a. frozen shoulder. A great way to treat frozen shoulder is with the “towel stretch,” which performs a similar action as using a towel to dry your back.
Start with a towel in your left hand. Bring your left arm over your head. The towel should now be hanging behind you. Hold the other end of the towel in your right hand. As you grasp the towel, let the muscles in your right shoulder and arm loosen. “Extend your left arm toward the ceiling and pull your right arm up toward the back of your head,” notes LiveStrong.
"Lower your left arm so that your right arm drops down again.” Now switch to the other side.
Other treatments for pain relief
When suffering from chronic shoulder pain, exercises can provide some relief, but they are just one option. At Flexogenix®, we offer non-surgical, minimally invasive solutions to help you get back to the pain-free, active lifestyle that you deserve. Contact us today for a no-cost consultation and let us show you a personalized plan to relieve your pain and improve your life!