If you play golf regularly (The Bridges, Canyon Lakes, and Dublin courses are quite beatiful, by the way), the chances are good that you may experience shoulder pain at some point, if you haven’t already. The shoulder, or glenohumeral joint, has the largest range of motion of all the joints in the human body. As such, it has many tendinous attachments and supportive structures which statistically increase the chances of biomechanical failure.
One of the most common causes of shoulder pain is a rotator cuff injury. The rotator cuff consists of the tendinous attachments to the humeral head; specifically to the supraspinatous, infraspinatous, subscapularis, and teres minor muscles that work together to move the shoulder in multiple planes. A rotator cuff injury occurs when tendons and/or muscles tear and cause pain. A powerful golf swing, swimming, and falling hard on an outstretched arm are examples of movements that can cause a rotator cuff tear.
If you feel that you’ve injured your rotator cuff, make sure to apply ice immediately, and rest it. A sandwich-sized, ziplock freezer bag full of ice works well. Hold it against your shoulder for 20 minutes; repeat every two hours during the waking hours for at least two days. You can tie the icebag down against your shoulder using a robe belt or something comparable wrapped around the opposing underarm (you’ll need assistance doing this). Don’t attempt to move and stretch your shoulder during this time, just focus on reducing the inflammation.
See a doctor if any of the following occur:
- The pain persists for more than 2-3 days.
- You are unable to work due to the pain/limitations.
- You are unable to reach up or to the side with the affected arm after 2-3 days.
- You are unable to move the shoulder and arm at all.
Sprains and strains are given grades I-IV depending on severity, with Grade IV being a complete rupture. Treatment will depend on your particular grade. Sports physicians will typically offer a corticosteroid injection or anti-inflammatory medications, followed by rehabilitation exercises using a theraband.
Another option is laser therapy. Laser treatment works to reduce inflammation and enhance cellular metabolism of injured cells, thereby shortening the healing time. It is applied directly on the skin, and penetrates down to the rotator cuff transdermally, with no incision involved.
As the pain subsides, sports massage and strengthening exercises should be done to reduce the effects of scar tissue, which can cause shoulder stiffness and clicking noises with shoulder movement.
If you suffer from shoulder pain, call us at (925) 855-5525 for a free evaluation and consultation.
Dan Perez, DC
Sports chiropractor San Ramon