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Our Shoulders Do Plenty and That is the Problem
Last review: 08/12/10  JR Rogers

It's funny, but before I got involved in the arthritis business after my own injuries, I used to think that our knees were the easiest joint to injure. Of course, I now know that our knees carry about four times our body weight so certainly they are at risk. However, think about the role your shoulders play in your life.

Greater Motion Capabilities

Your shoulders are the one joint that has more motion potential than any other. It allows us to stretch, throw, pull and swing. But the problem is that the shoulder's ability to allow us to do these things can be its downfall.

Rotator Cuff

The shoulder has a large rotator cuff that consists of four muscles that come out of our backs. They wrap over our upper arm and this is what holds our shoulder joint which is made up of the shoulder blade.

When you have pain in this area, it is going to be felt over the top of your shoulder. As well, the pain will sometimes be in the front and it can affect the outside of your arms. This is usually a form of tendonitis.

However, there are two other types of pain that we can have. The first is a result of a tear in the tendon. When this happens, you will likely be able to spot it. Usually, you will feel a loss of strength and your ability to move the shoulder is greatly reduced. The "noise" you hear is audible.

Bursitis can also affect the shoulder. We have talked about "bursa" before. They are small discs that site between the rotator cuff tendons and the bone of the shoulder. They are there to help with friction as the tendons move across the bone. This is also usually easy to spot. If you feel pain when you flex or bend your arm at the elbow, moving it up and backward, you may have a bursitis problem.

Rest and More Rest

All of these conditions are handled with rest. Applying heat or ice, whichever works best for you, is also good. However, it is also important to keep some motion going even when resting the shoulder. If you do not keep some motion, it can get itself locked into less mobility or freezing itself up. One way to do that without adding to the problem is to just bend over slightly and hang your arm in a downward direction. When you do this, gently swing your arm in all directions. There is no need to overdue it. Keep in mind that doing this regularly, will assist in keeping the shoulder from going into what I call "lockdown."

My Regular Regimen

To be honest with you, I like to do that simple little "exercise" every day. It gives me some assurance that I am limbering up my shoulder and keeping things on track. You might consider this simple exercise in your daily routine.

Pain Medications

Most doctors are going to tell you to take some anti-inflammatory such as Aleve. I am more inclined to use a quality liquid glucosamine. It does a far better job in my book. If you have gotten into a situation where you have actually torn your rotator cuff, it may need surgery.

Time Will Tell

Most of the injuries will resolve within two or three weeks. If you are not getting relief by that time, it is time to call the doctor and let them have a look.