Written by Dr Luke Attkins

Shoulder injuries are one of the most stubborn injuries that we can deal with as a practitioner. This is due to the shoulder being the most moveable joint in the body and can take the longest to heal. They can happen very gradually, or after trauma and can linger for a long time.  

Here are 5 things you should know about shoulder pain:

They are highly treatable if diagnosed early
People with shoulder pain usually do not seek early medical attention unless it has been traumatic. The gradual onset of some shoulder pain, is the type of pain where we tend to ignore initially because of its subtleness BUT ignoring the pain will not make it go away. In fact, it will usually continue worsening the longer you wait to seek care. The earlier you see a practitioner, the better it will respond to physical therapy and regain its range of motion.

Treat and work on surrounding structures like the shoulder blade
The shoulder blade serves as a platform for the muscles of the shoulder known as your rotator cuff muscles. When there is an injury to the rotator cuffs, it is directly related to how well the shoulder blade is working too. A weak and unstable shoulder blade will produce an unstable base for the rotator cuffs hence possibly causing the muscles to be compromised therefore leading to injury and weaknesses. So it is important to include shoulder blade stabilizing exercises on top of rotator cuff strengthening.

Frozen Shoulder is more common in middle aged women
Frozen shoulder happens when the lining of the joint becomes inflamed and creates an abnormal adhesive feeling within the joint. The gradual thickening of these structures results in stiffness and pain upon movement. No one knows the exact cause of a frozen shoulder but women between the ages of 40-65 years old have a greater prevalence.

Sleeping positions
While taking some time to recover from a shoulder injury, it is important that you find a sleeping position that is comfortable and not aggravating. If you are a side sleeper, try sleeping on the non-painful shoulder or sleep with a pillow under your back propping yourself up at roughly 45 degrees. If your shoulder pain is near the front, sleeping on your back can help evenly distribute your weight and again keep pressure off. The sleeping positions you lie in are there to help with always reducing the pressure through you shoulder joint.

Shoulder pain can also come from somewhere else
Most shoulder pain can most likely be musculoskeletal in nature but sometimes other conditions can also cause shoulder pain. If your shoulder pain is unexplained and does not change when you move your neck, shoulder or arm there is a high chance the problem is coming from somewhere else (such as gallstone, heart or blood vessel problems and lung problems). It is important to be checked out by your medical practitioner for further examination.