“Shoulder pain” may be something we all struggle with- but have you ever wondered where it comes from? It’s more involved than you may think!
Consider how the human body is capable of so many things, from running and jumping to dancing and fighting. All of these movements extend from our core- which includes our torso, our spine and our rib cage with all our organs. Our extremities include our legs, arms and head, that extend from our core. But there's a few special joint and muscle pairings that connect that core, or our torso, to our extremities- we’re talking about our hips, shoulders and neck!
These three parts of our bodies are extremely important for daily movement and, subsequently, can be very prone to injuries; after all, our hips are used to propel our bodies for travel, our necks hold our heads up, and our shoulders move our arms, which allows us to reach, stretch, and throw. Add to this the fact that when we get stressed, we tend to hold the most tension in our shoulders, causing us to round or hunch them forward. As a result, we see not only shoulder pain, but subsequent neck pain as well. It’s a two-in-one combo that many of our patients struggle with after a work injury or car crash.
Shoulder Pain Causes
Shoulder pain is sometimes caused by the tense posture we hold ourselves in when we are stressed. This postural change reduces our mobility and puts added strain on our head, neck and upper back. Rounded shoulders also affect our ability to take full and complete breaths, as the space in which our rib cage wants to move is restricted.
Of course, stretching and taking breaks to check your posture is always a great idea to help relieve some of that tension. But what if your shoulder pain isn’t just from stress, but from an injury?
Treatment Options for Shoulder Pain Caused by Injury
There are usually one of three main categories for pain treatment after a car crash or workplace injury: the most invasive and arguably extreme method, which is surgery; taking prescription medication, which can present a high risk of addiction; and a more conservative model of care, physical therapy. Out of the three of these, physical therapy presents the least risk for complications, either from errors in surgery or chances of addiction with prescription medication. The physical therapists here at BC + PT are all specially trained in treating shoulder pain, whether it be from an injury or accident, or a disease such as arthritis.
Even with a severe injury, or severe pain in your shoulder, your BC + PT physical therapist will be there to help you regain your range of movement and reduce pain. A lot of people think that the first and only option is surgery, but it is possible to go to physical therapy before surgery as well as after.
The Treatment Plan for Shoulder Pain
If you experience shoulder pain from a car crash, you may need to, first and foremost, visit a hospital or receive urgent care. If you are sure your pain is not so extreme, your next option may be to visit an orthopedic doctor. This doctor will likely conduct a physical exam to diagnose the problem, and may choose to send you for imaging tests like x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and others.
Your orthopedic doctor will be the determiner of if you need surgery or to move to a conservative treatment plan with physical therapy for your shoulder pain. If you do need surgery, your doctor may even send you for physical therapy before the surgery, which can reduce the need for more extensive operations. Post-surgery, your orthopedic doctor may prescribe physical therapy to recover strength and motion for your shoulder.
Just because your orthopedic doctor discusses surgery with you does not necessarily mean you must pursue it. As a patient, you have the right to advocate for yourself and make your voice heard. If you would like to try physical therapy for your shoulder pain first, don’t be afraid to start this discussion with your doctor and see if this is a viable treatment option for your unique case!
What Kind of Physical Therapy is Useful?
For minor causes of shoulder pain that do not require surgery, physical therapy can be incredibly helpful. It may take time to recover your range of motion, but this is why our BC + PT physical therapists are so helpful- you receive 1:1 attention with each appointment, and they will be able to address your concerns directly and assist you fully in your recovery.
When you are in a traumatic accident or suffer an injury, you may need to seek immediate care. However, if your shoulder pain is less intense, consider seeing a physical therapist before it worsens. Many shoulder pain conditions can benefit from early physiotherapeutic treatment and you may not need surgery or prescription medication at all! Our physical therapists at BC + PT are friendly, knowledgeable, and give you their full attention in each appointment to aid in your recovery. If you’ve suffered a shoulder pain injury, don’t wait- give us a call or fill out our contact form to get in touch today. Stop waiting and start healing!