Have you ever injured your shoulder? There are many diagnoses that your doctor can give you and some of the terminology they use can be confusing or even scary! For example, “rotator cuff strain”, “subacromial impingement”,” bursitis”,” labral tear” and” shoulder osteoarthritis” are some of the most common names, but what do they mean and how can your shoulder become painfree with physical therapy?
Most shoulder diagnoses are very specific to the actual structure or tissue that is injured in the shoulder complex. As physical therapists, our job is concerned not only with what structures are injured but HOW you injured your shoulder so we can teach you to heal and protect your shoulder. Did you play tennis for a number or years? Do you lift weights at the gym? Did you slip and fall on an outstretched hand?
None of the above? A poor ergonomic work place or performing repetitive, incorrect movements at work/home and even some incorrect sleeping positions could throw off a very delicate system of muscles and nerves that control the mobility and stability of one’s shoulder.
Your doctor has probably mentioned the importance of the rotator cuff, a group of 4 muscles: the supraspinatus, subscapularis, infraspinatus and teres minor that very closely surround the ball and socket of the shoulder joint. Studies have shown that these muscles contract together in a “presetting phase” which begins before any movement of the actual shoulder occurs to enhance the joint’s stability. Without proper flexibility and strength of these small but important muscles, the “presetting phase” is altered or delayed and the bigger muscle groups such as the chest muscles, biceps and trapezius take over causing altered muscle patterns and joint mechanics which can lead to many shoulder injuries
Physical therapists (PT’s) are trained to palpate all the muscles of the shoulder for tenderness or myofascial restrictions and can test the flexibility, strength of each muscle so we can create an treatment plan for you. At EMH Physical Therapy we perform manual therapies to your neck, shoulder, upper back and arms; we teach an individuallized stretching and strengthening program and we incorporate neuromuscular re-education techniques to help you return to optimum shoulder health. Your posture and/or mechanics of your sporting activity are also evaluated and corrected to ensure you do not go back to old habits once your pain is eliminated. By following our guidelines, most patients with shoulder injuries can return to full painfree function!