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December 2012: Shoulder Injuries

By Adam Tysoe -- January 9th, 2013

Your shoulders are composed of large muscles that regularly exert themselves when carrying, lifting, pushing, and pulling, all movements you will do countless times over your life time. Because of the extent of its use, shoulder injuries are commonplace.

Download December 2012 Newsletter here

‘Shoulder’ is a colloquial term used to describe a four jointed system:

  • Linking the shoulder blade (scapula) and upper arm (humerus) is the glenohumeral joint. The muscles surrounding this structure are known as the rotator cuff.
  • Connecting the collar bone (clavicle) and scapula is the acromio-clavicular joint.
  • Joining the clavicle and breast bone (sternum) is the sternoclavicular joint.
  • Finally the so-called ‘virtual joint’ between the chest wall and scapula.

Shoulder injuries will typically involve these joints and any surrounding musculature, specific damage to elements of this system will limit specific ranges of motion. The shoulder is actually capable of a broader range of motion than any other part of the body, able to assume approximately 1600 different positions. Unfortunately, this carries with it a resulting instability that often results in injury. Common Shoulder injuries are: Frozen shoulder, shoulder tendonitis, dislocated shoulder and a broken collar bone are extremely common shoulder injuries. Shoulder injury symptoms typically include shoulder pain, shoulder weakness, a stiff shoulder and shoulder joint instability. Shoulder pain and shoulder injuries frequently occur due to trauma or sporting overuse.

Treatment Options for Shoulder Injuries

The type of physiotherapy treatments that you will receive depends on the specific condition that you have and whether you’ve undergone surgery or not. In addition, your physiotherapist will likely ask about your goals for rehabilitation.

Physiotherapy treatments for shoulder injuries may be composed of a combination of any of the following:

  • Cold therapy (ice pack application/ice massage)
  • Hot pack application
  • Immobilization (splinting/bandaging)
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Ultrasound (US)
  • Soft tissue mobilization (massage)
  • Shoulder joint mobilization
  • Physiotherapy exercises
  • o Range of motion exercises
  • o Stretching or flexibility exercises
  • o General conditioning exercises
  • o Shoulder muscles strengthening exercises
  • Patient education
  • o About the patient’s particular shoulder problem
  • o Precautions and activity modification
  • o Self-care of symptoms
  • o Wound self-care (after surgery)
  • o Home exercise program
  • o Shoulder injury prevention
  • Return to work or sports rehabilitation program

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