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Who knew everyday tasks could be affecting your shoulder?

Original Publish Date
May 12, 2021

Many of us out there have not played much sport in our lives or have only done it very infrequently. In that case, we are not always subject to many of the injuries that athletes or weekend warriors are subject to most often. In this blog, I’ll talk about some common injuries for those of us who are not often on the court or field.

SHOULDER IMPINGEMENT:

This term refers to a phenomenon that happens in the shoulder joint where your upper arm bone, or humerus, your collarbone and shoulder blade are pinching some of the structures that lie in between them.

This can happen because of many factors:

These factors happen because of many different reasons but often times it can be contributed to by getting older, decreased use of your arm especially in overhead positions, and poor habits likely contributed to by a more sedentary lifestyle.

Under this umbrella of shoulder impingement you might hear these terms:

  1. Rotator cuff tendinitis or tears
  2. Bursitis

Both the rotator cuff muscles and a very small and flat fluid filled sac called a bursa lie in between the humerus and shoulder blade/collarbone joint called the acromioclavicular or AC joint. Due to the factors mentioned above like bone spurs and decreased flexibility of the joint the rotator cuff and bursa can be pinched which causes pain and inflammation. If the impingement goes on long enough you can get a rotator cuff tear, which means that the tendon of one of the rotator cuff muscles is either fully or partially torn. This can cause more problems in itself.

FROZEN SHOULDER OR ADHESIVE CAPSULITIS:

These terms both refer to a process that affects the shoulder joint, specifically the capsule of the joint. The shoulder capsule refers to connective tissue that essentially saran-wraps the shoulder into the socket. It is one structure that helps keep your shoulder joint from dislocating along with the muscles and other ligaments.

On the downside, when you have a frozen shoulder a process begins in which the shoulder joint becomes stiff due to inflammation, pain and eventually scarring that happens of the connective tissue capsule. This severely limits your shoulder motion making it hard to reach the top of your head to wash your hair, to reach behind you to put on a bra or a belt, and to reach into a cabinet.

A frozen shoulder can begin as an injury from impingement or untreated shoulder pain which causes you to stop using your shoulder as much because of the pain. This is more common in women than men, but not by much and it can often impact diabetics more as well. But it can happen to anyone and it does not always happen from a significant shoulder injury. It is a bit of a mysterious phenomenon. BUT it can be treated and it does get better with time and work.

By Dr. Billy Beaudreau, PT, DPT, MTC, OCS, FAAOMPT

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