APRIL 12, 2016 – TAKING THE PAIN OFF YOUR SHOULDERS
Pain in your shoulders can affect a wide range of activities. ART® providers treat cases of shoulder pain resulting from as little as working at your computer to participating in activities such as tennis, swimming, and golf. Shoulder pain is commonly slow to respond to traditional treatments, and if shoulder pain progresses, it can make simple tasks, such as reaching for things and sleeping, painful.
As with any type of injury, ART® first looks at the underlying cause of shoulder pain. The shoulder provides a great deal of motion for a single joint, and allows people to reach overhead, behind their bodies, across their chest, and to rotate their arms. The shoulder joint is comprised of the rounded end of the arm bone called the “humerus,” and the flat surface of the shoulder blade, known as the “scapula.” Because the shoulder is the joining of a flat and a round surface, it is a relatively loose joint, which is what enables it to provide such a wide range of motions. Stability and control of this motion is provided by the rotator cuffs and scapular stabilizers.
Shoulder injuries occur most often when significant stress or repetitive motion inhibit the rotator cuffs and scapular stabilizers from doing their job. Many people realize that sports such as tennis or golf can cause shoulder injuries easily. This is because these activities demand both a great deal of force from the rotator cuffs and scapular stabilizers, as their swinging motion requires the arm to reach far behind and in front of the body, and numerous repetitions of those motions.
What many people do not realize, is that shoulder injuries are often caused by the actions of their everyday lives. Any time you push, pull, lift, or carry anything with your arms, your shoulder muscles must contract to protect the shoulder. Even working at your computer requires a small ongoing contraction in the shoulder muscles. These may seem like small matters, but combined with the frequency with which many people complete these actions, these everyday activities can cause serious repetitive use injuries.
Inside the muscles and tendons, these motions cause small-scale muscle damages called microtrauma. If microtrauma is not able to heal, it can lead to the buildup of scar tissue also known as “adhesions.” Adhesions then contribute to the cumulative injury cycle, which can eventually lead to more serious injury, pain, and loss of function.
Traditional treatments for shoulder pain include rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, ultrasound, muscle stimulation, steroid injections, stretching, exercises, and if these don’t succeed, surgery is recommended. If these methods are effective, they often must be done over a long period of time, and can be costly both monetarily and in the amount of time away from activities. Many of these methods are only able to treat the symptoms of shoulder pain and not the cause.
Active Release Techniques® locates the exact location of the adhesions and releases them, thus eliminating the underlying cause of the pain. To do this, the ART® provider will apply very specific pressure while you lengthen and stretch the tissue. Because of the hands-on nature of ART® treatment, as the provider releases the tissue in one area they are able to determine the overall health of the muscles and tissues in the area and provide the most comprehensive treatment possible.