I know, I know. You feel like I am a broken record… I always say where the site of the pain is not often where the source of the pain is coming from.
You can have a shoulder problem, that looks like a shoulder problem, acts like a shoulder problem, but is it really a shoulder problem? Maybe not!!
I always rule out the spine (neck) with all my patients that come in with a shoulder complaint. You would be surprised at how many shoulder problems that are really neck problems.
Let’s take a patient example. This patient has difficulty raising their arm forward to the side and behind the back. Her pain was in her shoulder and some in her shoulder blade, but mostly in her shoulder. She had some weakness with strength, but it was not too bad.
The patient went to Physical Therapy, Chiropractors, Acupuncture, and multiple doctors who were telling them it was a shoulder problem. They got an MRI and guess what they found something. Shocker. (you know that 60-80% of normal pain free patients will show something on an MRI).
They had a Rotator Cuff Tear (RTC). That was their problem based on the MRI. (you should also know that 90% of pitchers for baseball also have a RTC, yet they can still throw the ball without problems).
So they had surgery. And they got worse and it did not help. They did 4 months of physical therapy and it still did not get better.
By the time they got to our office. I stated they are missing something, and it is either one of 2 things. First I want to rule out your neck. She stated she was not having any neck pain but did have stiffness. I checked her ROM in her neck and she was limited, but it was not really bad.
She could not raise her arms above her head without pain. It took her 30 min in the morning to stretch to be able to wash her hair. That is how bad she was.
So I wanted to just take her through a few neck motions to get to end range to rule her neck in or out. And guess what she was able to lift her arms above her head for the first time in years. Her pain levels reduced by 70% after the first few visits. She was back to washing her hair. She was ecstatic and I would be too. She got her life back after years of hurting and having people work on the wrong problem.
I always tell my patients, my evaluation is a process. I can talk me 1-3 visits to get things figured out and then once we have a plan we help you execute it. At mPower Physical Therapy of Dallas we help you get to the source of the problem to avoid things like surgery, injections, and medications.
If you know someone who is having shoulder issues and they want to learn more on how we can help, then share this post with them.
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