We think our hands do a lot in a day like, eating, throwing, shaking, waving etc., while hardly give credit to our shoulders who are actually making our hands do all these jobs. Imagine with this much of mobility, pains and discomforts are ought to happen which is why it has been estimated that up to 67% of people will experience shoulder pain at some point in their life.
The shoulder, one of the largest and most complex joints in the body is a composition of numerous bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles altogether which provides our arm a range of motion such as abduction, abduction, flexion, extension, internal rotation, external rotation, 360° circumduction, scapular protraction, retraction, elevation, and depression no wonder why it is called the most unstable joint of the human body.
Anatomy of shoulder
The 3 bones clavicle (collarbone), scapula (shoulder blade), and numerus (long bone of the arm) make up a shoulder which has 2 joints namely acromioclavicular joint (AC) and the glenohumeral joint which is the ball and socket joint, together which allow the arm to move. The AC joint is the gliding joint formed between the clavicle and the acromion, which is the projection of the scapula that forms the point of the shoulder and gives us the ability to raise the arm above the head. While the ball (humeral head) and the socket (the glenoid) allows the arm to move in a circular rotation as well as towards and away from the body.
Then there is a rotatory cuff that connects the numerus to the scapula and is made up of the tendons of four muscles, the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, trees minor, and the subscapularis. The job of tendons is to attach muscle to the bone while the muscles, in turn, move bones by pulling on the tendons. Next, there is a piece of cartilage called labrum that cushions the numerus head and the glenoid and keeps the joint stabilized. Further, it has two sac-like structures called bursae that are made up of ligaments, and they secrete a lubricating fluid, which helps reduce friction between the moving parts of the joint. Together, all of these make the most flexible shoulder joint.
Shoulder pain may start minimally but the discomfort can worsen with use and time even causing permanent damage to your shoulders if not treated. Not necessarily all shoulder pains occur due to any trauma or injuries like a broken bone, a pulled muscle or strained or torn ligament, it can even simply be due to overuse of your shoulders in lifting heavy weights, irritated nerves, poor posture or some serious ones like carpal tunnel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, tendinitis, bursitis or frozen shoulder or something completely non-relatable like heart attack, pain in the teeth or jaw or gallbladder disease. Whatever the reason may, prevention and a little bit of care can avoid all this.
Tips for a healthy shoulder
1. Watch your sleeping position, lay either on your back or side.
2. Sit with your head over your shoulders and keep your shoulders back.
3. Don’t carry a heavyweight on just one shoulder
4. Take regular breaks from any activity you are required to repeat
5. Exercise to strengthen and stretch the muscles and tendons of your shoulder joint
6. Consume flax seed powder, ginger, green tea, garlic, and fresh pineapple are the foods for shoulder injuries that may help speed up the recovery process.
7. Keep electrotherapy machine handy with you.
Have you got trouble moving your shoulders? Do you feel extreme pain and stiffness on the shoulder joints while moving your arms? If yes, then you have probably turned the victim of a condition called ‘Frozen Shoulder’.
Also known as ‘Adhesive Capsulitis’ in medical terms, it is a condition which reduces the mobility of the shoulder due to pain and stiffness that gradually increases over time and usually resolves on its own. The complete recovery may although take 2 to 3 years. According to a study by Tore A Prestegaard, MD, the lifetime prevalence of frozen shoulder is estimated to be 2 to 5 percent of the general population.
Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder
When you have a frozen shoulder, arm pain and stiffness in the shoulder may make it difficult to perform simple activities like combing your hair, putting away dishes, putting on a belt etc.
The three stages of frozen shoulder and its unique symptoms are as follows:
Freezing: This is the most painful stage where the pain increases over time limiting the mobility of the shoulders. Pain worsens at night and this phase can last from 3 to 9 months
Frozen: At this stage, pain may decrease but the stiffness remains. The movement is still restricted and this stage can commonly last from 9 to 15 months.
Thawing: During this final phase, the pain starts to fade and the range of movement returns gradually. This stage lasts from 15 to 24 months.
Causes of Frozen Shoulder
Frozen shoulder occurs when ‘shoulder capsule‘, a tissue surrounding your shoulder joint thickens and tightens making it hard or impossible for the shoulders to move. It also happens when the thick bands of scar tissues called adhesions are formed and a liquid called synovial fluid which lubricates the joints also reduces. This worsens the mobility even more.
The age group between 40 to 60 are most commonly affected and women are more likely its victim than men. In addition, people with medical conditions like diabetes, stroke, thyroid, Parkinson’s disease and cardiovascular disease are at increased risk of developing frozen shoulder.
Treatment of Frozen Shoulder
A frozen shoulder usually restores on its own within 2 to 3 years but a proper treatment can speed up the recovery. The various treatment options are as follows:
NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ) like aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium available over-the-counter can help relieve pain and inflammation associated with frozen shoulder. Steroid injections injected directly to the shoulder joint also works as a powerful medicine to treat pain.
If the above two treatments don’t make your condition better, a doctor may advise you to undergo surgery. This option is generally offered during the second stage of the ailment i.e. the frozen stage. Shoulder manipulation and Shoulder arthroscopy are the two commonly adopted methods of the surgery. In shoulder manipulation, surgeons forcefully move the shoulder under general anaesthesia to help break the scar tissues. While in arthroscopy tiny cuts are made on your shoulder using a camera called an “arthroscope” to remove the scar tissues which help regain the lost motion. Even after surgery, it’s recommended to continue with the physical therapy in the following months so that the condition doesn’t return.
Physical therapy is one of the most commonly adopted treatments for frozen shoulder. Specific therapist-recommended shoulder exercises help to restore the movement. It not only stretches the shoulder joint but also helps in regaining the lost mobility. Staying committed to these exercises will help you to optimize recovery. Apart from these physical exercises, Electrotherapy modalities like a cold pack, ultrasound and TENS unit are the most effective treatment options for frozen shoulder. This non-invasive and gentle home-based therapy focuses on the joints and helps to alleviate the pain and inflammation improving the joint mobility.
To prevent yourself from developing frozen shoulder, as soon as you start feeling shoulder discomfort after an injury, don’t wait get started with the right treatment.
The way how the parts of a human body are connected internally is indeed fascinating. They are so interlinked with each other that if one suffers from pain or discomfort, the others too start feeling the same. Take our joints, for example. Pain in the shoulder joint can even induce pain in the neck, back, arms, and so on. Hence, it is necessary to treat the root cause of pain to prevent others from aching.
Our shoulder joint is no different from others. In fact, it is one of the most complex joints in the human body, having a combination of several bones, tendons, and muscles. The ball-and-socket joint called shoulder that allows our arm to move in a various range of motion, surprisingly, has no bony connection to the rest of the skeleton hence is the most unstable one.
Long-sitting job, poor posture, hardcore exercises, lifting heavy weights, an injury, dislocation, frozen shoulder, bicipital tendinitis, rotator cuff injury, cervical radiculopathy, osteoarthritis, etc. build up the tension in our shoulder joint which if not released can trigger shoulder pain and stiffness. Here are a few simple stiff shoulder exercises that will help release the tightness of your shoulder as well as the neck joint.
1. Shoulder rolls
● Sit or stand, keeping your back straight.
● Breathe in and slowly lift your shoulders toward the ears.
● Move the shoulders back, squeezing the shoulder blades together.
● Hold here for a few seconds and slowly lower your shoulders back down.
● Reverse and repeat.
2. Cross-arm stretch
● Bring your left arm up to your chest level.
● Bend the left arm at the elbow & grab your left arm by your right hand.
● Stretch out to your shoulder and hold for 30 seconds.
● Repeat on the other side and relax.
3. Cat-cow Pose
● Position your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
● Inhale and fill your belly with air and drop it down as you look up at the ceiling, lifting your chin and chest.
● As you exhale, engage your abdominals, tuck your chin into your chest, and round your spine.
● Inhale and come back to the cow pose, and exhale and return to the cat pose.
● Repeat this a few times paying attention to your shoulders.
4. Ear to shoulder
● Sit with a straight spine and slowly lean your head toward your right shoulder.
● Try to go as far as possible without straining or lifting your left shoulder.
● Use your right hand to deepen the stretch and to pull your head down gently.
● Hold for a few seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
5. T, Y, and I movements
● Stand with your back to a wall and palms facing out.
● Slowly bring your arms up to make a T shape, keeping your arms and back in contact with the wall.
● Now continue bringing your arms up to make a Y shape and lastly an I shape, touching your thumbs overhead.
● Focus on keeping your shoulder blades flat against the wall (not allowing them to stick out or wing).
● Hold each shape for few seconds and repeat.
In a nutshell
Shoulder stretches have numerous potential health benefits because when a muscle stretches, its fibers and the surrounding fascia, or bands of connective tissue, extend to full length. By releasing the tension of your tight shoulders, you will improve their mobility, reduce stress and relieve pain, lessen the risk of muscle and joint injury, and improve your posture. Moreover, shoulder stretching exercises also enhance the function of the neck as well as the arms. Ins short, regular practice of stiff shoulder exercises along with the use of electrotherapy device like SONICTENS can keep your shoulders smooth and flexible.