Shoulder Pain Treatment

Achieving your desired outcomes in getting treatment for your shoulder pain starts with being clear about what you want to achieve. There is a whole wide world of difference between ‘relief’ and ‘resolution’ of a shoulder pain problem.

If you are simply looking for ‘relief’ of your shoulder pain you will most likely find that there is some form of hands on type treatment or combination of treatments that will work for you. We specialise in exploring combinations of therapies (like those below) that work well together, to bring the quickest and most long lasting relief of your shoulder pain. If you want full ‘resolution’ of your shoulder pain however you may need to go beyond just getting ‘treatment’ and graduate to rehabilitation. 

‘Resolution’ of shoulder pain becomes a possibility when we are willing to look at and work on the underlying weaknesses, postural issues and lifestyle choices that are creating the shoulder pain. Shoulders only hurt if they have good reason to hurt, addressing those reasons is the key to lasting resolution. 

Rib Mobilisation For Shoulder Pain

If you have shoulder impingement and/or pain/knots around the inside of your shoulder blade it is virtually certain that you have issues with the movement and position of your upper ribs, where they attach to your spine. 

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. Throughout  the middle section of your back the bones must also articulate with your ribs to form your rib cage. This is where your rib cartilage or rib joints come in.

Rib mobilisation & rib manipulations mobilise restore movement to your ribs and can bring great relief, especially if you have one of those stubborn ‘knots behind your shoulder blade. There are a number of ways in which rib joints can be mobilised, gentle stretches in specific directions, classic ‘popping’ type of adjustments and using small hand held adjusting tools are all useful. 

Acupuncture/Dry Needling For Shoulder Pain

Acupuncture & dry needling can be very helpful for a percentage of shoulder pain cases. Needles that are placed in a focused grouping around painful tissues are generally most effective. Needles aim to increase blood flow and reduce pain signals in painful tissues.

Shoulders that have significant soft tissue and muscle pain, and that have minimal scar tissue generally respond better to acupuncture than some others. If acupuncture works for your shoulder pain it will usually work quite quickly. At our clinic we ‘trial’ treatments to see if they work for you, and if they don’t we move on to some other form of treatment. 

Scar Tissue Release (Graston Technique/Guasha) For Shoulder Pain

Most people with long standing shoulder pain have a slow build up of scar tissue. Scar tissue can of course form after a major injury event, it can however also form very slowly in response to years of desk work. It is this kind of scar tissue that contributes to the slow and unfortunate, round shouldered, head jutting forward changing of shape that so many office workers go through. 

Use of blunt scraping tools gently around the scar tissue of the shoulder is the basic method. Guasha is the old Chinese name for this technique but there are many other forms from various cultures, there are also more modern versions like Graston Technique. The idea with all of them is to break up and remodel microscopic scar tissue adhesions, which are a major cause of shoulder pain.

Deep Tissue Release For Shoulder Pain

Most shoulders with persistent pain are full of ‘pressure points’ or myofascial trigger points (the sore spots you feel in muscles). At Featherston St. Pain Clinic we consider ourselves to be experts at finding and releasing the most stubborn trigger points. It’s not the most fun to have done (we know that ourselves) but boy does it help with many cases of shoulder pain. There is also that concept of ‘good pain’ which most of our patients become familiar with. 

There are numerous different ways to perform deep tissue release, many of which are covered in this list. Here we are referring to the use of thumbs and in all honesty, elbows to release deep pressure points. This is a great way to release muscle pain in the shoulder if it done with sufficient accuracy. 

Suction Cups For Shoulder Pain

Cupping massage or cupping therapy has been used for thousands of years for good reason, it is currently undergoing a powerful resurgence. Many global cultures have their own cupping traditions and in Northern Europe we have used leaches in a similar ‘vein’, if you will accept puns of that magnitude with your educational material. 

Using suction cups for the management for shoulder pain increases blood flow in the area, stretches the fascia, breaks up scar tissue, can very fast relief and leaves funny marks that your friends and family will assume are bruises. 

A common myth around cupping is that it releases toxins, the actual cause of cupping marks is deoxygenated blood that has been drawn to the surface. Cupping is in fact far too gentle to cause actual bruising. Cupping dilates and fills capillaries with deoxygenated blood, which sometimes looks just like a bruise. In any case cupping is often a powerfully effective way of reducing shoulder pain. 

Percussion Massage For Shoulder Pain

 Percussion is a form of soft tissue release. Percussion using hands (and these days also machines) has been part of massage and even respiratory healthcare for thousands of years and it is no less effective today. Percussion massage the way we do it for shoulder pain, involves the use of a mechanical massage device, it is designed to reduce spasm, break up scar tissue and promote blood flow within painful tissues. 

 Percussion is helpful for many people seeking treatment for shoulder pain. If it is helpful for you, you will usually be able to feel some relief and a difference in your pain within a small handful of treatments. 

Mobiliser Treatments For Shoulder Pain

The Mobiliser is a military tested machine that is useful for reducing back pain and increasing flexibility of the spinal column. Mobiliser looks and to some degree feels like a massage bed that you lie on. What Mobiliser really does though is stretch your spinal column out of its slightly hunched position and helps to correct your posture. 

Mobilisers party trick for shoulder pain sufferers is that it can often improve movement of the shoulder joint in a single session, without going anywhere near the shoulder joint itself. It does this by correcting the position of the spine and shoulder girdle which creates space for the shoulder joint tendons to move more freely. 

Post Isometric Stretches For Shoulder Pain

Post Isometric stretches are a specific type of stretch that utilises the muscles tendency to relax after it has contracted powerfully. It can be used to release stubborn restriction of movement in a percentage of shoulder pain cases. 

By first providing resistance to the contraction of specific muscles in your shoulder we can then get access to deep stretches of tight shoulder muscles. This frequently brings breakthroughs in even the most stubborn cases of shoulder pain and restricted shoulder movement. 

Rehabilitation & Postural Correction For Shoulder Pain

Rehabilitation of shoulder pain involves moving past pain relief and into postural correction and strengthening of the rotator cuff. With marginal variations shoulder pain is close to being a one size fits all topic, this is because underneath our shoulder pain we all share the same fundamental muscle and tendon imbalances. The idea of bespoke and custom exercise routines sounds good, but the truth is 99% of shoulder pain sufferers have a need for the same set of muscles to be stretched and the same set of muscles to be strengthened. This is in contrast to the topic of shoulder pain treatment which as we have seen is very much unique to the individual person and the individual shoulder: 

Strengthening weakened postural muscles so that the spine and shoulders stay straighter during work, rest and leisure time is an excellent and essential component in managing stubborn shoulder pain in the longer term. Stretching out the front of the body, which becomes excessively tight over time, especially in people who have sitting & desk related work tasks, is an essential part of the rehab process for shoulder pain as well as strength training for muscle and tendon. 

We take rehabilitation very seriously because we know what it can do for peoples quality of life in the long term. Instead of the classic ‘give them an exercise sheet and send them on their way’ approach we take a significant amount of time to coach you in becoming very confident in executing the exercises. This approach turns these exercises into a set of tools that will potentially serve you for a lifetime should you need them.