Written by Dr. Brian Magna, DPT
All of us have experienced shoulder pain at times which has dissipated on its own. However, some of the smallest amounts of shoulder pain can be a sign of something more serious happening in the joint as well. Excluding cardiac episodes which can present as shoulder, neck and arm pain, many of the common conditions of the shoulder, if left untreated can become more debilitating over time.
The shoulder has a shallow joint more like the top of a golf tee, rather than a deep pocket such as the hip joint. This shallow type joint allows for many more movement possibilities which can be good or bad depending on one’s age, posture, strength and previous history with the shoulder. A simple increase of laxity (extra movement not usually present) can produce pain, weakness as well as decreased strength and function.
The rotator cuff (four muscles surrounding the joint) are responsible for key movements which help raise your arm overhead and rotate the shoulder while adding stability and strength. Unfortunately, the rotator cuff can cause problems in both the young and old, from little leaguers to senior golfers and gardeners.
There are other structures in the shoulder which can also be involved causing pain and decreased function. They include ligaments which connect bone to bone and add stability and the labrum which is a cartilaginous tissue which adds support and stability to the socket of the joint. A disruption in these tissues or combined with a musculotendinous problem such as the rotator cuff, can cause an imbalance and lead to pain, dysfunction and possibly surgery.
As a physical therapist, I see a tremendous value in annual PT check-ups. Such visits examine the entire body regarding strength, range of motion, flexibility, posture and balance. The main focus is to discover those imbalances named above in order to prevent more problems as we age and/or become more active physically.
If you have any questions or concerns about your shoulder or any other orthopedic issue, please don’t hesitate to contact a doctor of physical therapy to examine the issue as well as scheduling your annual PT check-up.
Dr. Brian A. Magna & Associates
Magna Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Center
Avon & Canton