How We Treat Shoulder Pain At Featherston Street Pain Clinic

Our 3 Step Treatment Process

Successful management and relief of stubborn shoulder pain can be surprisingly straight forward. Yet in other instances a highly systematic, focused, and persistent approach may be required to get your pain under control. 

We specialise in providing flexible ‘multidisciplinary’ pain relief – using a wide range of tools and techniques. This gives us the best possible chance that we can help everyone: from the most easy straightforward cases right through to the most stubborn treatment resistant forms of shoulder pain.

Step One

Find The Cause

Step Two

Hands On Pain Relief

Step Three

Rehabilitation And Prevention

Step One - Find the Cause

Getting to the bottom of your shoulder pain means finding out where exactly the pain is coming from – and exactly what is causing it.

We have a wide range of technologies and tests at our disposal, in order to identify the sources of pain.The first thing we want to know is which tissues are generating your pain. 

Shoulder pain can come from muscle, tendons, joints, nerves, bones or fascia (connective tissue). Establishing clearly which tissue is creating the pain is the first step towards relief. But we don’t stop there because we want to know WHY you are suffering.

Some shoulder pains are caused by damaged or degenerated tissue. Some shoulder pains are caused by psychological stress. Some shoulder pains are caused by scar tissue from old injuries. Some shoulder pains are caused by bad posture. Some shoulder pains are caused by jaw clenching. Some shoulder pains are caused by the nature of a person’s job. 

Finding out why you have shoulder pain is essential if you want longer term relief from pain. Which is why we place great importance on this step. If you need an X Ray or MRI to diagnose your pain we can organise an immediate referral for the relevant imaging on the spot.

Step Two - Hands On Pain Relief

In most cases of shoulder pain, it’s necessary to work with someone who combines a variety of technologies and hands-on methods to ease your pain. So that’s exactly what we do.

Most people who require treatment for stubborn shoulder pain don’t respond particularly well to just being given home exercises. Much in the same way that most people with toothache don’t respond too well to being sent home with dental floss. 

If you have chronic shoulder pain you almost certainly need hands on treatments with professionals who are trained to physically relieve the pain for you. We use some of the most advanced pain technology available anywhere combined with a wide range of skill based manual techniques.

Step Three - Rehabilitation And Prevention

Successful management of shoulder pain in the longer term often requires more than just the right ‘treatments’. 

For many patients, shoulder pain treatment that brings some blessed relief is often just the start point. Stress management, postural correction, lifestyle tweaks, workstation tweaks and even dietary tweaks are often necessary. Muscle weakness in the rotator cuff and upper back can also be a key issue.

Most cases of shoulder pain are either caused by something that we are doing wrong or something that the body needs help with like strength or alignment. Making necessary  adjustments to your lifestyle and the wellbeing of your body may be necessary for longer term success. Coaching for these important changes in those who wish to make them is a part of what we do.

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Treatments And Technologies We Use To Treat Shoulder Pain

There are many different ways to treat shoulder pain, and it’s just as well because we don’t all respond to the same stuff. 

The ultimate key to successful treatment of shoulder pain is working with a team who are willing to take a sufficiently flexible approach, and trial a number of different therapies to see what works best on your specific case.

Low Energy Laser Therapy is the application of specific deeply penetrating light waves to a painful area. Light with a wavelength in the red to near infrared region of the spectrum (660nm–905nm) is generally employed because these wavelengths have the ability to penetrate skin, and soft/hard tissues.

 A great many clinical trials have shown this type of treatment has a meaningful effect on pain, inflammation and tissue repair. In our experience people with neck pain often experience immediate improvements in their pain after laser sessions. 

Shockwave Therapy is a non-surgical – non-drug-based – scientifically approved therapy that is widely used as a pain treatment. There have been literally hundreds of studies that support the use of shockwave therapy for a very wide range of pain complaints.

Shockwave Therapy was originally developed for its application as a non-invasive treatment of kidney stones. We use a gentler form of the same technology to break up deep muscle knots and tracts of scar tissue in the neck. For more information on shockwave therapy visit our shockwave homepage here.

It should go without saying that we have a tendency to hold tension in our shoulders. This kind of tension Is a major contributor to many cases of shoulder pain. By using specific stretch techniques for the muscles in the shoulder you can often release a great deal of tension from the shoulder and shoulders. Post Isometric stretches are a specific style of stretching that utilises your muscle’s tendency to relax after it has contracted strongly.

Most shoulders with persistent or recurring pain are full of ‘pressure points’ or myofascial trigger points (the sore spots you feel in muscles when you get a deep massage). At Featherston St. Pain Clinic we consider ourselves experts at finding and releasing the most stubborn trigger points. It’s not always fun to have done (we know that ourselves) but boy can it help with persistent shoulder pain; when it’s done properly!

Acupuncture can be extremely helpful in the management of many shoulder pain cases. We don’t approach acupuncture in the traditional way where needles are placed in a wide no. of locations, we generally focus directly on the area of pain.

Acupuncture aims to promote blood flow, release pressure points in muscle and reduce pain signals. Needles are placed very superficially around the area of pain and we generally leave them in for around 10 minutes, depending on your body’s tolerance to them. If acupuncture works for your shoulder pain, you will usually start to feel the benefits within the first 2-3 sessions.

Your spinal column is made up of a series of bones, these bones are able to move and flex because of the discs and small joints that connect them. There is actually only a small amount of movement at each ‘segment’ of the spine but when you add all those little units up you have a reasonably mobile column. 

The facet joints (think small knuckle sized weight bearing joints) in your spine are a prime suspect for generating shoulder pain. It’s these facet joints that are often locked when you can’t move your neck and shoulder without pain. If  these little joints that get injured when you get a whiplash. The majority of shoulder pain sufferers have one or more locked up, facet joints in their upper back. Spinal mobilisation or spinal manipulations mobilise the facet joints and restore movement to your shoulder and can bring great relief.

Heaps of people find the application of ice packs for the treatment of their shoulder pain can prove to be very beneficial. Ice works by interrupting pain signals within the nerve, stimulates the activity of blood vessels, and reduces both inflammatory and pain chemistry in the shoulder. 

One of the most common questions we get asked is whether heat or ice is better. Nine times out of ten ice is a better option than heat when you have pain. Heat can be a bit of a tricky one because it does often feel soothing at the time. Sometime after heat application however you may have more pain than you might otherwise have had.

A large number of people suffer with stubborn shoulder pains caused in part  by old unhealed  injuries. These injuries can come from almost any historical incident of shoulder or head trauma. One of the long term repercussions of unresolved shoulder trauma is scar tissue. 

Scraping gently in and around the connective tissues of the shoulder using a blunt scraping tool is the basic method behind how we manage scar tissue in the shoulder. Guasha is the old Chinese name for this technique but there are many others from different cultures and there are more modern techniques like Graston Technique. The idea with all of them is to break up and assist with remodelling of microscopic scar tissue adhesions, which are a major cause of shoulder pain.

Cupping massage or cupping therapy has been used for thousands of years by multiple global cultures and not only is it still around for good reason, it is currently undergoing a powerful resurgence. 

Using suction cups for the treatment for shoulder pain increases blood flow in the area, stretches the fascia, can bring massive amounts of relief and leaves funny marks that your friends and family will assume are bruises. The most common myth around cupping is that it releases toxins, the actual cause of the marks cupping leaves is deoxygenated blood that has been drawn to the surface.

Percussion has been an established component of soft tissue release, massage and even respiratory healthcare for thousands of years and it is no less effective today. Percussion massage as treatment for shoulder pain generally involves the use of mechanical massage devices. It is designed to break up scar tissue and promote blood flow within the soft tissues. Percussion is generally at its best when used in combination with the other treatments for shoulder pain like those in this list.

Prevention of shoulder pain usually means longer term strengthening of the muscles that maintain your  posture. 

Time is seldom kind to the stubborn and recurring pains that affect us throughout life. The niggly shoulder pain that comes and goes in our 30’s and 40’s often becomes the unrelenting pain that destroys our basic quality of life in our 70’s and 80’s. We take the potential longer term repercussions of unrehabilitated pain conditions seriously. Prevention is not for everyone… but we believe in it passionately and it’s a major part of our offering.

Our 5 Pain Treatment Fundamentals

Hands On Treatments

We are in the business of helping you get out of pain. The beating heart of our clinical process is a committed and very hands on approach to getting you out of pain as quickly, painlessly and safely as possible. We are willing to use a wide range of tools and also to work tirelessly in our efforts to get you out of pain.

Flexible Treatment Approach

Even among professionals there is little agreement on the best ways to treat pain. If there is one thing that we know for certain about pain management though, it’s that a flexible multidisciplinary treatment approach to shoulder pain is best. This is why we take such great care to provide the most diverse range of pain relief tools possible under one roof.

Get To The Bottom Of It

The human body seldom if ever generates pain for no reason. Pain is a highly organised and intelligent form of feedback that we have evolved over millions of years. In other words if you have pain it will be for a good reason. We always strive to find the deepest possible explanation for your pain so that you have the best possible chance of preventing it in the longer term.

Excellent Communication

Unlike a one-off filling at the dentist, successfully relieving most shoulder pains is a process. A process that often requires commitment, trust and clear communication. We believe that clear and open communication combined with genuine rapport is fundamental within our arsenal of pain management tools.

Assume Nothing 

Just because a treatment has worked for us a thousand times before; doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to work on you! Pain management is not a ‘1 size fits all’ moment in life. We monitor our patients’ response to treatment very closely. This approach enables us to make agile treatment protocols that can be altered in real time should we find that you aren’t responding to the tools and techniques that we expected to work for you.