Many people suffer shoulder pain for months and years, yet with proper therapy, it can often be eliminated rapidly without invasive treatment. Shoulder pain is often explained in terms of tears in tendons, nerve impingement or bone anomalies such as spurs, growths, stenosis or roughness in the joint. These anomalies might actually be present, but they are rarely the cause of the shoulder pain and restriction.
The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint made up of the humerus bone of the arm, the shoulder blade or scapula, and the collarbone or clavicle. The head of the humerus fits into a shallow socket of the shoulder blade, like cupping a tennis ball in the open palm, forming the glenohumeral joint. This is the most mobile joint of the human body. The shallow socket allows a wide range of movement but also leaves the shoulder joint more vulnerable to injury. The joint depends on the strength of the muscles, tendons and ligaments to hold the ball and socket in place. Most shoulder pain and injury involves these hardworking soft tissues.
Shoulder pain may be diagnosed as bursitis, impingement syndrome, torn rotator cuff, arthritis, shoulder tendonitis, frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis, among other things. Recommended solutions normally range from rest and stretching to medications, injections and surgery.
DMR Therapy® point of view and treatment:
First, surgery is NEVER called for in chronic cases. Shoulder problems can nearly always be completely resolved without drastic interventions. Trigger points are a major cause of shoulder problems but are rarely recognized as a factor in the development of shoulder restriction and pain. As a result, invasive and ineffective treatments are often prescribed.
Generally speaking, the diagnoses mentioned above follow the standard (often erroneous) ideas of where shoulder pain originates. In my experience, the origin and cause of the pain in all these cases is generally similar: tightness, restriction and trigger points in the soft tissues.
Normally, acute pain syndromes become chronic through failure to address a problem promptly. If recognized early, trigger points, which are often the cause of these problems, respond quickly to appropriate release techniques used in DMR Therapy® and pain recurrence is rare. However, if not treated promptly the stage is set for secondary trigger points in nearby muscles, especially synergistic muscles (those that work together to aid in the same movements) or antagonists (those that perform the opposite motion). Because of the complex nature of the shoulder and its movements, in time most of the muscles of the area become involved and the problem grows more complex. Raising the arm, reaching behind the back, pushing or pulling can increase the pain level, and the range of arm motion is impeded even if pain is not present.
Although fascia may be acknowledged as contributing to the problem, especially in instances of adhesive capsulitis, injecting or cutting these tissues is often the only solution offered in conventional treatment, rather than manually working with and releasing them as indicated with DMR Therapy®.
Therapy may begin by stretching the fascia in the area. This alone can have a dramatic effect because tightened fascia is painful and restricts movement. Since fascia envelops individual muscles, tight fascia has a straitjacket effect, encasing the muscle so that it can’t relax. In addition, the fascia encasing one muscle often sticks to that of the adjacent muscle, forming adhesions that further restrict movement. The pressure applied while stretching the fascia changes its texture from sticky and dry to soft, elastic and pliable with a more lubricated consistency. Gradually the adhesion is released. Healthy, relaxed muscles, encased in healthy fascia, easily slide by each other to produce smooth movement.
The next step is to work directly with the muscles. Releasing the trigger points releases the pain. By holding the point, the pain begins to lessen and a sense of relief ensues. Releasing tension in the muscle also allows blood to flush the area and eliminate tendinitis caused by the pulling of a tight muscle on its bone attachment.
What causes shoulder pain? A focus on the mechanics of muscle and bone can lead to overlooking a most important origin. Emotional issues are generally at the core of shoulder pain (and most pain, for that matter). Affairs of the heart, especially conflict with one’s partner or parents, can cause severe pain in the arm and shoulder. Anger and responsibilities can also be a source. Often this emotional connection becomes evident as we work directly with the fascia and muscle. We might also focus therapy deep into the abdomen and solar plexus where negative emotions may be stored.
For a deeper discussion of specific shoulder problems, please click on the appropriate link below:
- adhesive capsulitis
- emotional implications
- frozen shoulder
- rotator cuff tear
- thoracic outlet
- joint deterioration