Shoulder Pain in St. Louis, MO. If you live with shoulder pain, you know the limitations it can place on your life. It can make everything from strapping on a seatbelt to diving for a softball frustrating and, for some of us, not even an option. But pain and limited shoulder movement is usually manageable and beatable with safe and effective treatment. At Axes PT in St. Louis, MO, our experienced physical therapists create personalized treatment modalities, backed by proven research, to get you back to the activities you love most. Allow us to make your shoulder pain a long-forgotten memory. Request an appointment through our website or find our location most convenient for you.
The Anatomy of the Shoulder | Shoulder Pain in St. Louis, MO
The shoulder is among the largest and most complex joints we have. In truth, what we call the shoulder joint is made up of four different joints:
- The glenohumeral (GH) joint is the joint where the humerus (upper arm bone) fits into a relatively small dish called the glenoid. Given the relatively shallow socket, it allows for more movement than any other joint.
- The acromioclavicular (AC) joint is formed by the junction of the collarbone the acromion, the part of the shoulder blade that is the highest part of the shoulder. A plane style synovial joint, it allows your shoulder blade to follow the movements of the other shoulder joints.
- The sternoclavicular (SC) joint is a gliding joint formed by the clavicle the sternum at the base of the neck. This joint is where the arm and torso meet, it connects the movement of the upper limb with the core of your body.
- The scapulothoracic (ST) “joint” is not a true anatomical joint as it does not have ligaments connecting it to bone. It is made up of the scapula and its articulation with the ribcage.
In order to support those four joints, the shoulder consists of:
- the four muscles of the rotator cup that surround the head of the upper arm bone, which power movement and stabilize the ball of the humerus within the shoulder socket
- the shoulder capsule, a a fluid-filled sac that surrounds and lubricates the shoulder
- the ligaments of the shoulder which provide passive stability while still allowing for movements in different planes
- the biceps tendon and rotator cuff tendons which allow muscles to power the bones
- the brachial plexus nerves that allow the brain to tell the shoulder and arm to move and the shoulder to tell the brain when it feels pain or other sensory information
- the arteries that supply nutritious blood to the shoulder
In order for the shoulder to function properly every joint, ligament, tendon, muscle, artery, capsule, and nerve must be able to work together. Sufficient blood must flow to the shoulder efficiently to maintain healthy soft tissue and repair minor damage. The muscles strong enough to move and flexible enough to safely make those movements, the tendons attaching bone and muscle must be intact and strong, the ligaments that attach our bones need to be similarly healthy, and the nerves need to have a strong and secure connection to the brain. When any of these parts are not at optimal health, it can lead to a disruption of the whole complex, and anywhere from nagging to debilitating shoulder pain or loss of function. If you’re experiencing shoulder pain or any other symptoms of a shoulder injury, contact Axes’ physical therapists for a complimentary injury screening.
What’s Behind My Shoulder Pain?
Shoulder pain can be caused by numerous different circumstances, from sports injuries to being struck by an object, a work injury from overuse to old age. Below are common causes of shoulder pain that our team see in St. Louis, MO:
- Bursitis — The bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that work as a cushion and gliding surface between muscles, bones, tendons, and skin. Bursitis occurs when the bursae because inflamed after repeated activities, often occurs in association with shoulder impingement, and can make basic activities like getting in and out of cars tremendously difficult.
- Tendinitis — Tendinitis generally occurs because of a tendon becoming irritated. It typically falls into one of two categories:
- Acute: This can happen because of a sudden blow, repeated throwing, or other overhead activities needed in some competitive and activities and fields of employment, such as tennis or lifting and lowering objects.
- Chronic: This can happen because of degenerative conditions or general weakness as we get weaker.
The condition causes pain and tenderness just outside the joint.
- Rotator Cuff Tear — These can also be caused by sudden trauma, such falling on an outstretched arm, or wear and tear. The tendon is initially frayed before becoming torn. A partial tear often goes unnoticed. Full-thickness tears, which go all the way through the tendon, often require surgery. Common symptoms are pain when performing certain movements, pain when sleeping, and a cracking sensation when performing certain movements.
- Shoulder Impingement — Impingement is the result of soft tissue rubbing against your shoulder blade. It is often the result of rotator cuff swellings after an injury. Shoulder impingement is rarely caused by overuse, but rather by physical activity.
- Shoulder Instability — This occurs when the ball of the upper arm bone is allowed to move out of the socket when the capsule or ligaments become stretched, torn, or detached, and also can happen suddenly or from wear and tear. A dislocation can be partial, coming in and out of the socket, or complete when the bone completely comes out of the socket. It often happens in combination with injury to the surrounding areas of the shoulder. Long-term instability will result in shoulder pain and a sense of the shoulder “giving way.”
- Arthritis — While arthritis refers to a range of diagnoses, osteoarthritis is the form that typically affects the shoulder. Osteoarthritis is the degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bones. Common causes include old age, frequent trauma, and overuse. Arthritis cannot be cured, but you can find effective pain management techniques with St. Louis, MO physical and occupational therapists.
- Shoulder Fractures — The humerus, clavicle, and scapula are the most commonly broken bones in the shoulder. They are often the result of falling a significant distance or onto a hard surface or forceful collisions such as a car accident. The shoulder pain is immediate and obvious, along with substantial inflammation and bruising.
- Axillary Nerve Injuries or Brachial Plexus Injuries — Nerve damage in the shoulder is the result of when nerves are compressed, when scar tissue blocks their electric signals, or the nerves are otherwise damaged. Axillary nerve and brachial plexus injuries can cause shoulder pain along with a range of other sensations. They are usually the result of a sudden blow but can also occur because of degenerative conditions.
Sometimes, injuries are intertwined, such as how an untreated rotator cuff tear can lead to arthritis. If you’re experiencing shoulder pain, one of our no-risk, free injury screenings in St. Louis, MO may help you discover why you’re experiencing the pain. If you’ve sustained a severe injury or have severe shoulder pain, a physician in St. Louis, MO may use a physical examination, various imaging techniques, and/or arthroscopy to discover the cause. Most people who experience shoulder pain can experience relief with a customized treatment plan with certified physical therapists that are experts in movement health in St. Louis, MO can be a successful way to return to the activities you love.
Treating Your Shoulder Pain in St. Louis, MO
Your customized and evidence-backed physical therapy treatment plan may include:
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization to detect and treat any problems with your muscles, ligaments, or tendons
- Pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation, coordinated together with your doctor, if you need surgery to relieve your shoulder pain
- Kinesio Taping® to reduce pain and inflammation and keep you safe as you participate in physical activity or go back to work while you are still recovering
- Blood flow restriction training to strengthen muscles while reducing overall stress on the shoulder
- Trigger point dry needling to attack irritated muscles, ligaments, and tendons deeper in the body to encourage the body’s natural healing processes
- Posture correction to ensure you do not contribute to your injuries or do not heal correctly
- Injury prevention so you and your shoulder and stay healthy and active
- Other safe, effective treatment methods to increase and maintain your mobility
Missouri Law dictates that you need a prescription to attend physical therapy appointments, so you need to reach out to your St. Louis, MO primary care physician to see if physical therapy is safe and an effective treatment option for your shoulder pain. Our professional physical and occupational therapists work alongside your primary care physician to ensure you are getting the care that fits into your overall treatment plan.
St. Louis, MO Shoulder Pain | Axes Physical Therapy
A healthy shoulder is important to not only living our every day life, but to keeping up the active lifestyles we desire. At Axes, we focus on patient results for our St. Louis, MO clients by implementing evidence-backed treatment plans catered to your injury, pain level, age, and desired activity level. You do not have to delay in getting back to the things you love doing most and a pain-free life. Make an appointment online or call the location nearest you.