Shoulder conditions occur in the shoulder joint which can prevent us from bending, flexing, reaching, or rotating our arms. However, repetitive overhead movements that are common to some sports and jobs frequently overstress the shoulder joints resulting in injury. When problems related to tendon tears, instability, fractures, arthritis and other conditions impede movement, both surgical and non-surgical treatments are considered to ease pain and help restore movement. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. The ball is called the head of the humerus and the socket is called the glenoid (it’s part of your shoulder blade, also known as the scapula). Sometimes, arthritis can form here. On top of this ball and socket joint is another bone known as the acromion. This is a frequent place for bone spurs to form. Right next door to the acromion is the acromioclavicular joint or “AC joint” for short. This is a common place for shoulder separations. A group of 4 muscles helps to move your shoulder joint; they are called the rotator cuff. These muscles work together to help get your arm up over your head, as well as rotate it in and out. That’s why rotator cuff injuries usually result in weakness, especially in trying to raise the arm overhead. One of the 4 muscles is injured much more frequently than the others; it is known as the supraspinatus muscle. In addition, these rotator cuff muscles function to help keep your shoulder “in socket”, or “located” (when the shoulder comes out of socket, it’s called “dis-located”). You have several ligaments in your shoulder that help to keep it in place. Finally, there’s an “O-ring” around the socket, called the labrum, which also helps keep your shoulder in socket and causes pain and popping when it’s torn. At some time in life, you may experience shoulder pain.
Our specialists can offer the best shoulder surgery physicians can provide, though it is best to avoid surgery altogether if possible. To avoid experiencing shoulder pain, our patients should keep physically fit with a balanced program of aerobics, stretching and strengthening all body parts to help to prevent shoulder injuries. If you think you have injured your shoulder, consult a physician before starting an exercise program. Here are some specific tips for the shoulders:
- Apply heat to shoulder muscles before exercise. Heat prepares muscles and tendons for exercise.
- Keep your arm below shoulder height while doing stretches for the shoulder.
- Gradually increase movements—big circles, across-body movements, trunk twists, shoulder blade rolls and forward and backward squeezes—during shoulder warm-up.
- Pendulum stretching exercises relieve pressure on the rotator cuff. While sitting or standing, keep arm vertical and close to the body. Allow arm to swing back and forth in a small diameter (about 1 inch). As symptoms improve, the diameter of swing may be increased. Initially perform the exercise with just the weight of your arm. As shoulder pain improves, progressively add more weight—5 to 10 pounds (a filled gallon container weighs 8 pounds). Perform exercise for 5 minutes once or twice a day.
- Muscle-strengthening exercises can be performed about 1 to 2 weeks after doing pendulum stretching exercises. Use elastic exercise bands for a variety of arm exercises. For example, attach band to a doorknob. Then hold your elbow close to your side at a 90 degree angle, grasp the band and pull toward your waist. Hold for 5 seconds. Do 15 to 20 repetitions each day.