Shoulder pain is an extremely common condition that millions of Americans face. In the workplace, people who perform manual labor jobs such as electricians, plumbers, carpentry, and roofers all have higher risks of experiencing shoulder pain. This is because of the repetitive motions such as swinging hammers, drilling, screwing, and working overhead that come with the nature of these jobs.
The shoulder joint is a complex of bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons that all work together to create the complex motions that the shoulder has. There are 5 different joints associated with the shoulder, 17 different muscles that attach to or work on the shoulder to provide these motions. With so many different joints and muscles, there are a lot of different conditions that can occur when a shoulder injury occurs. Let's go over the most common!
First thing first is it's important to visualize the anatomy of the shoulder. In this picture, you see the humerus, clavicle, and acromion process of the scapula that all make up what people typically consider to be the shoulder. The white-colored areas connecting the bones are the ligaments and you can see the A/C joint here which is located on top of the shoulder. Notice how there is a red muscle that travels underneath the A/C joint in this picture. This is a rotator cuff muscle known as the Supraspinatus. This muscle is a common cause of shoulder pain for different reasons. You can strain this muscle typically from repetitive overhead activities or catching yourself from a fall. Another common condition is when this rotator cuff muscle becomes pinched underneath the A/C joint as it travels through it to attach to the arm bone (humerus). This condition is known as shoulder impingement and can be caused by either dysfunctional movement of the shoulder or actual abnormal anatomy. It's important to be able to distinguish the different causes of this through both x-rays and sometimes advanced imaging such as an MRI if needed. Another important piece of anatomy to see is the biceps tendon which is the red muscle that is starting at the bottom of this picture and can be seen attaching to the top of the humerus. This muscle/tendon group can also become inflamed causing a condition known as biceps tendonitis which is also caused by repetitive motions such as arm swinging as when swinging a hammer, lifting objects, and pushing objects.
Shoulder pain can be tricky to understand. It is important to understand the different mechanisms that can cause shoulder pain as we have described above. But what does shoulder pain actually feel like? Many conditions that cause shoulder pain all cause pain in the front of the shoulder typically over the A/C joint or on the superior and lateral edges of the humerus as that is the insertion point for multiple muscles to attach to the arm. People describe this pain as dull and achy often, but sometimes it can be sharp or even burning pain. When this occurs, it is recommended to be evaluated by Dr. Brunner at Empower Chiropractic in Shawnee, Kansas to identify the cause of the pain and to properly treat the specific condition. Typical treatments include passive therapeutic treatments to relieve pain, Chiropractic adjustments to restore proper motion to the joints, and active exercise rehabilitation to help restore proper muscle activation and stability to the shoulder to reduce the risk of the injury re-occurring. We are experts at treating these conditions and can help you feel more like yourself and get back to work, or your sport of choice as quickly as possible. Call us if you would like to schedule your first visit: 913-278-1598.