Shouldering the Load – A Professional Opinion On Shoulder Pain Mismanagement

DR. JAKE WRIGHT (OSTEOPATH)

Recently we have been seeing an increased amount of upper back and shoulder issues as we come out of the harvest period, and after a quieter than usual winter sporting season where players are returning to training too quickly. We are also seeing a lot of chronic shoulder issues that have not been dealt with in the correct manner or time frame in the past.

The shoulder is an extremely complex region, where thorough patient education is required around their own biomechanical predispositions to injury along with an understanding of physiological tissue healing times. There are a lot of missed opportunities when it comes to applying rehabilitative load at the most effective time to enhance injured tissue tolerance without the risk of further injury.

It doesn’t matter which type of practitioner you see or which stripe they wear, it’s about your issue and how it is managed. Osteopaths spend five years at university, studying the inter-workings of the body and its functions, covering everything from orthopaedic, neurological, and musculoskeletal testing as well as the pathophysiology of conditions. Using these methods, we are able to give you a specific diagnosis and explanation as to what is occurring and how to prevent the pain from coming back.

“Without a good understanding of how the shoulder functions and incorporating thorough education into a treatment plan, most shoulder complaints will be mismanaged, with an enhanced risk of aggravation or re-injury.”

A great plan of attack with shoulder pain is to get the inflammation under control (speak to your doctor beforehand). This may be done and conservatively through the correct use of ice and heat, compression, and introduction of movement and rehabilitation as determined after assessment by your osteopath. Rehabilitation needs to be unique for each individual that presents, each injury is different, each arm can tolerate different amounts of load and in some cases, healing times alter due to age or external factors.

Shoulder dysfunction will not be fixed without a complete and well-managed rehabilitation program designed by a practitioner who understands the steps of injury management, further prevention of injury, and a structured approach to training. The earlier you get assessed by an appropriate practitioner, the better. Your shoulders may carry the load now but the weight may slowly wear you down. A great practitioner will always refer if they feel it’s necessary for the patient, at the end of the day it’s about you.

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