Updated: Dec 20, 2020
Why do I have shoulder pain? How do I get rid of it? Why aren’t these rotator cuff exercises working? Why does this bursitis in my shoulder keep coming back? All great questions!
Our bodies are incredible and the way that our different bodily systems work together to give us a walking, talking, functioning body is simply amazing. Our bodies are made up of many systems that all work together to allow us to function so smoothly. However when there is an abnormality in one system this can flow into various other systems, which is why a holistic approach is so essential when working with our bodies. A holistic approach allows us to really understand what is going on and be able to create an approach that will address the root cause of any issues so that we don't just get relief from symptoms, we get real change and real solutions that last for the long term.
When it comes to pain and becoming pain-free in our bodies, this kind of holistic approach is also very essential. Its crazy the amount of times I have seen people in pain who have seen countless rehab professionals only to be still experiencing the same pain. They have followed the treatment for a while and experienced relief only to stop soon after and have the issues return once again. Building a relationship with treatment where it only works when you “do your exercises” - as soon as you stop the problem comes back.
When looking at pain and becoming pain-free we should be looking at 3 levels:
1 - What is the pathological issue or injury?
2 - What are the symptoms that the person is experiencing?
3 - What is/are the cause/s of this injury and the symptoms?
The missing link for a lot of professionals is that they don't truely understand how to best address the cause of of injuries or symptoms. In my experience the cause is the most important one to address. If this is missed you are going to stay in a constant cycle of being pain-free to being back in pain again. It doesn’t really matter how well we address the injury or symptoms if the cause is still active, the problem will just keep coming back.
An example of this is a client I worked with earlier this year who had been experiencing shoulder pain - a scan revealed this this was sub-acromial bursitis. The approach that had been taken to this point was simply avoiding the movements that were causing her pain along with strengthening her external rotator cuff muscles. Following this approach was giving her relief but it was quite clear that is was not solving the real problem because as soon as she tried to go back to the movements that she had been avoiding, the pain came back. She came to me with the attitude of “I just can’t do those movements”.
With this client, the rotator cuff work had been helping stablise her glenohumeral joint, however her shoulder blade was not achieving anywhere near the degree of upward rotation that is should and her thoracic spine was very limited in extension and rotation. When she went to reach her arms overhead, she could get to a certain point before she was quite restricted and this was where the unwanted stress was occurring on her sub-arcomial bursa resulting in the shoulder bursitis she was experiencing.
For this client we had to address the deficits in upward rotation in her shoulder blades, the lack or mobility in her thoracic spine and then teach her how to move properly. Another key area we looked at was why these mobility deficits were present; this client had been in a heightened stress state for quite some time and her current breathing pattern really reflected this. Chronic high stress levels and the in-efficient breathing pattern that stress creates, tends to result in stiffness through our thoracic spine and a general lack in upper body mobility.
Implementing some better stress management tools and breathing practices were essential for this client.
Would you like to get out of pain? Would you like to actually fix the reason why the pain is occurring so its gone once and for good?
Click the link below to see the 12 most common reasons why people experience shoulder-pain and the solutions to these problems.
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