When you come in for neck pain or upper back pain or upper limb pain, a shoulder assessment – even if very informal – is often part of the osteopathic examination. Your neck or back may have a problem of their own, or they may be responding to an underlying shoulder problem.
The chances are that anyone over the age of 50 seen in my clinic has some kind of asymptomatic (or symptomatic!) shoulder pathology present and this gets taken into account in assessment and treatment or treatment positioning when working in other areas of the body.
If so many people without symptoms in the shoulder have significant shoulder problems, why does one person develop shoulder pain and another person doesn’t?
People’s daily activities and bio mechanics can make some people more prone to developing symptoms than others. In thinking about the people I see, these seem to be very common lifestyle issues that may predispose to developing shoulder pain:
- Very stiff upper back
- Ergonomics problems – poor desk setup
- Overhead work or overhead athletes
- Stress – stress management problems
- Neck problems and neck postures
These common problems can contribute to stiffness which causes other muscles to tire more easily and to begin to move in a way that is dysfunctional and causes further problems. In addition, these muscles can develop trigger points which cause local and regional pain.
Positional release techniques, strong soft tissue work, heat and stretch are used to directly treat the trigger point areas, and mobilization and mobility exercise is used to reduce the contributing physical factors.
Even if you’re not in pain, come in for an MOT every now and again to get things moving!