Your painful shoulder. Our first meeting, my initial thoughts….
As an osteopath, shoulder pain is something that we commonly see in clinic. Often the problem is very simple to diagnose and treat but there are rare occasions when it is more complicated than just a simple soft tissue injury!
Firstly, when a patient comes to see me with shoulder pain, the first thing that I think is “could it be more?”. The shoulder is a very interesting area due to its complexity. At first glance it may appear to be just a a few bones, ligaments, muscles and nerves. But, there is also a blood supply to consider and the lymph system too. Not only that but the pain being experienced could be referred from an issue within the thorax, such as the heart, lung, diaphragm, liver, gall bladder or spleen (depending on which shoulder the pain is felt). The discomfort could even be caused by an issue within the neck or the upper back, so there is a lot to consider, which is why it is important for the patient to be open and honest about the discomfort they are experiencing.
Most of the time it is quite easy to differentiate between how serious or simple the problem may be by simply asking questions such as “what does the pain feel like?” and “what makes it worse and better?” amongst others.
When all things have been considered osteopaths can, in the majority of cases, continue with an examination of areas that could be causing the pain. This may include an abdominal exam, chest exam (listening to the heart etc), checking the neck and the upper back too. We don’t necessarily just jump straight into looking at the shoulder because the pain being experienced there may just be a symptom of another complaint elsewhere.
Thankfully, after all that has been described, nine out of ten times the issue will be a simple rotator cuff issue, or a joint in the neck causing the discomfort. Both of which are nice and easy to treat.
If you have a shoulder complaint and would like to have it checked out, you can contact us at: