Shoulder Pain

I know what it is like to have chronic shoulder pain. I suffering from the pain of bursitis in both shoulders for several years. Frustrated by conventional treatment I decided to take matters into my own hands and focus all of my attention on finding a solution for my shoulder pain.

Successful management of shoulder pain with good long term outcomes relies on more than an expert knowledge acupuncture techniques. A combination of sound anatomical knowledge, clinical testing and pattern recognition are required to formulate a diagnosis, and management plan for your painful shoulder.

It is estimated that a little over 1% of consultations with Australian general practitioners (GP) are for shoulder pain. In terms of musculoskeletal complaints this makes shoulder pain the third most common reason for patients seeking treatment from their GP behind back pain and knee pain. In terms of chronic pain suffers, a report by Access Economics stated that 29% of those with chronic pain are suffering with chronic shoulder pain.

There are many reasons why you may have shoulder pain. Common causes of shoulder pain are impingement syndrome, shoulder instability, bursitis, calcification and tears in the muscles of the rotator cuff. Shoulder disorders cause varying levels of disability from person to person. The one common factor with all shoulder problems is the resulting pain and limited mobility of an injured shoulder affects many aspects of your personal and work life.

What You Need to Know to Stop Your Shoulder Pain

Acceptable Pain Levels: Your goal is to get your shoulder pain free and functioning normally but don’t expect your shoulder pain to stop immediately. The first priority is to get your shoulder pain to an “acceptable” level so that your shoulder has time to repair and so that you can perform rehabilitation exercises if required. Our initial goal is to reduce your pain levels to about a 2 out of 10. This is achieved by undertaking regular treatment and participating actively in your own rehabilitation.

Relative Rest: Your injured shoulder needs rest in order to heal. Rest will not only reduce your pain but will also help reduce any local inflammation. Relative rest doesn’t mean that you don’t use your arm. In this case, relative rest means that you would use your arm to do normal day to day activities but not so much as to aggravate your condition. If you continue to aggravate your condition you will greatly reduce the likelihood of recovery.

Safe Zones: Safe zones are used to indicate your safe range of motion so as to prevent further injury. Using the injured shoulder within the limits of pain has been shown to reduce pain, swelling, stiffness and preserve joint range of motion allowing you to return to regular activities earlier than they otherwise might. It is particularly important to keep your arm within this “safe range” during the initial stages of your treatment.

Pain Relief Medication: Taking regular paracetamol has a long history of safe use and is often effective in treating mild to moderate pain. For more severe pain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) prescribed by your GP may be appropriate and may be taken in conjunction with paracetamol. You should always consult your GP or pharmacist about the most appropriate medication for your condition.

Why use Acupuncture? A report published by the University of New South Wales in 2013 recommended that acupuncture, performed by a suitably qualified person, be used to treat rotator cuff syndrome. As a general rule, during the initial stages of management, frequent acupuncture consultations are required to settle the pain, muscle spasm and inflammation involved in your condition. As your condition settles less frequent consultations are required. In individualised treatment plan, specific to your individual needs will be developed and reviewed regularly.

References                                                              

Funk L. Safe Zones for Shoulder Rehab [homepage on the Internet]. [Cited 2014 February]. Available from: http://www.shoulderdoc.co.uk/article.asp?article=1329

Hopman K. Krahe L. Lukersmith S. McColl AR. Vine K. Clinical Guidelines for the Management of Rotator Cuff Syndrome in the Workplace. The University of New South Wales. 2013 [homepage on the Internet]. [Cited 2014 May]. Available from:  http://rcs.med.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/rcs/page/RotatorCuffSyndromeGuidelines.pdf

Hopman K. Krahe L. Lukersmith S. McColl AR. Vine K. Clinical Guidelines for the Management of Rotator Cuff Syndrome in the Workplace. The University of New South Wales. 2013 [homepage on the Internet]. [Cited 2014 May]. Available from:  http://rcs.med.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/rcs/page/RotatorCuffSyndromeGuidelines.pdf

Cheshomi S. The Relationship Between Thoracic Kyphosis Curvature and Subacromial Space. World Applied Sciences Journal 22 (12): 1806-1809, 2013

Hanchard N, Cummins J, Jefferies C. Evidence-based clinical guidelines for the diagnosis, assessment and physiotherapy management of shoulder impingement syndrome; Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. [Online].; 2004 [cited 2014 July 25. Available from: http://www.csp.org.uk/publications/evidence-based-clinical-guidelines-diagnosis-assessment-physiotherapy-management-should.