Ways to relieve shoulder pain

Nowadays, with most of us working from home, sitting at a computer for long periods of time, it’s no wonder our shoulders are getting strained.

Muscle and Joint

Cheryl Vincelette
Audrey Sckoropad
@AVogel_ca


18 March 2021

If you're experiencing shoulder pain, you know how disruptive it can be to your daily life. According to a study from 2011 (New Zealand), a whopping 70 percent of the population complains of shoulder pain at least once during their lifetime.

The shoulder

I believe that understanding how our body works and how it's made can help us comprehend how certain habits can affect it in certain ways. As far as the shoulder goes, anatomically speaking, it is made of two bones: the humerus (the long arm bone) and the scapula (the shoulder blade). The humerus contains a rounded ball called the head of the humerus. In the scapula, there is a shallow socket in which this head fits in. This joint assembly is supported by numerous tendons, ligaments and cartilages. Being the most flexible joint in your body, it is crucial to maintain a healthy shoulder to be able to attend to all the actions that require upper extremities.

Even the slightest problem or discomfort of the shoulder can be debilitating as so many activities require the use of the shoulders. There are many types of shoulder injuries ranging from:

  • rotator cuff injuries,
  • frozen shoulder,
  • bicep tendonitis,
  • to tears and strains on ligaments

...all of which cause significant decreased range of motion as well as a significant decrease in quality of life.

Symptoms and causes of shoulder pain

Shoulder pain symptoms can present as a sharp and/or shooting pain in or around the shoulder joint or may be in the form of a dull ache, often felt between your neck and the tip of your shoulder. Pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint is felt most with arm movement or lifting.

Shoulder pain can be a result of injury or disease of the shoulder joint. Injury can affect any of the ligaments, bursae, or tendons surrounding the shoulder joint. Injury can also affect the ligaments, cartilage, meniscus, and bones of the joint.

It is very common for chronic shoulder pain to develop due to prolonged, repetitive or awkward movements. When you're doing small, repetitive activities, it can strain the muscles and tendons of your upper body. This can lead to a gradual development of shoulder pain rather than it hitting you all at once.

There are certain habits that we do daily that contribute to discomfort in the shoulders. Such as;

  • Poor ergonomic set up at work. Whether you are sitting at your desk all day or checking people's grocery at the cash register, you are most likely doing certain actions and movements repetitively. Repetitive movements like reaching for the mouse, typing or holding the arm up can all cause muscle and ligament strain that eventually becomes painful.
  • Bad posture, especially when using tablets and cellphones. The slouching in the too common hunched-over position while on these devices is what creates the issue for many people.
  • Carrying heavy backpacks or purses. The American Occupations Therapy Association (AOTA) states that when kids carry more than 10 percent of their body weight, they can suffer injuries that can lead to health problems lasting into adulthood. It's not just the weight, but the size of the bag you carry and also the placement of it on your shoulders. Take purses for example that are mainly carried only on one shoulder, this can create muscle imbalance making posture not ideal.
  • Inadequate sleeping positions and old unsporting pillows or mattresses could be failing in keeping your head and shoulders in the right position. And if you're a stomach sleeper, the turning of your head to breathe can put some strain on the neck resulting in neck and shoulder pain.

Steps to ease the pain

No matter the cause of your shoulder pain, you need to take the issue seriously or the pain will go on increasing day by day. This can affect your work and even day-to-day activities. Before the pain becomes unbearable, take steps today to reduce it.

With little changes here and there, you can prevent or reduce shoulder pain in your daily life. There are different things that can be done to help:

  • Sitting square, the use of a comfortable and supportive pillow at night as well as shoulder stretches and exercises can keep your shoulder strong and flexible as it strengthens muscles.
  • It can help to see an osteopath or physiotherapist when experiencing shoulder pain. Osteopathy is gentle and a helpful treatment for many conditions of the shoulder including pain associated with AC joint and rotator cuff injuries.
  • Alternating heat and ice reduces pain and helps the injury to heal. Starting with cold, alternate cold and hot packs in 15 minute intervals a few times each day until you feel the pain diminishing.
  • Having arnica gel on hand is a great idea if you experience minor pain in your back, neck, and shoulder muscles. Arnica gel is known to relieve muscle pain quickly. Efficacy without the side effects of synthetic painkillers.
  • The Joint Pain Relief Devil's Claw is a licensed herbal rheumatism product made from extracts of Devil's Claw herb cultivated in the Kalahari without the use of artificial fertilisers, insecticides or fungicides. It can be used for joint pain and inflammation, it's a wonderful herbal remedy. You can take 1 tablet twice daily to see it's antiinflammatory effects.

References:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21619663/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16282408/
https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/recovery/rotator-cuff-and-shoulder-conditioning-program/