Physical Therapy Month: Fixing What Ails You — Shoulder Pain & How to Handle It

Your shoulder is like a piston in your engine: something you take for granted until it isn’t working the way it should! Much like keeping up with car maintenance, it’s important to take care of your shoulder so you don’t end up with bigger problems.

Your shoulder is a large and complex joint. Similar in nature to your hip, your shoulder hosts a ball-and-socket style construction. Your shoulder joint is formed where your upper arm bone fits into your shoulder blade; however, your shoulder also includes important structures like the rotator cuff, labrum, bursa, and collarbone.

The Pain: Many people may face shoulder pain at some point or another. You can have mild, moderate, or more severe pain. You can have serious pain after injury or pain that comes on gradually. Plenty of different activities can aggravate your shoulder: weight lifting, baseball/softball, martial arts, tennis, and simple daily activities that are too strenuous for your joint.

The Problem: You may experience pain as a result of different conditions. Sometimes, mild, irritating pain is due to overuse, while sudden, severe pain is the result of an injury. The torn rotator cuff, frozen shoulder, tendonitis, and arthritis are all examples of what could cause shoulder pain. While you’ll likely know when you’ve had an acute “moment of injury” that causes shoulder pain, you may not know what leads up to a gradual onset of shoulder pain.

The Treatment: 

At home: You can rest and apply ice, as well as take OTC anti-inflammatory medication for mild to moderate pain, discomfort, or stiffness.

What to Watch For: Watch out for limited range-of-motion, numbness/tingling in the arm and hand, severe pain, pain that doesn’t improve, pain that interrupts sleep, pain that limits sleeping on the affected shoulder, visible signs of injury such as dislocation, and pain or stiffness that limits or prevents your normal activities.

Seeking a Professional: With direct access availability, you can make an appointment with a qualified physical therapist – yes, you, right now, even before seeing your primary care physician. Your physical therapist is trained and educated specifically in injuries and conditions of the musculoskeletal system and will assess your shoulder and determine the best course of treatment. Your physical therapist can also refer you to a specialist if s/he believes that imaging or other tests are necessary. Your physical therapist will work directly with your insurance company and your doctor if more visits and/or a referral are necessary.  You’ll bypass the lengthy wait times at most doctor’s offices and move right into where you’d likely end up – the best place to begin healing.

If shoulder pain or other discomfort is causing limitations in your life, call Body One Physical Therapy. Our team of compassionate, highly-skilled physical therapists is here to help you get back on track. We’re locally-owned with four locations serving central Indiana: North Indianapolis, South Indianapolis, Fishers, and Zionsville. Don’t let pain and physical problems hold you back from living the life you deserve – call Body One today!