Have you ever been working out at the gym, pushing a heavy weight and heard a popping sound while skiing down the slopes and landing shoulder ﬁrst in the snow, or maybe just all of a sudden there’s a sharp pain in your shoulder? These are all signs of the same thing – a rotator cuﬀ injury.
The shoulder joint is a truly remarkable creation. It’s quite a complex formation of bones, muscles and tendons and provides a great range of motion for your arm. The only down side to this extensive range of motion is a lack of stability, which can make the shoulder joint vulnerable to injury.
There are two major causes of most shoulder injuries. The ﬁrst being degeneration, or general wear and tear. Unfortunately, the shoulder is a tendinous area that receives very little blood supply. The tendons of the rotator cuﬀ muscles receive very little oxygen and nutrients from blood supply, and as a result are especially vulnerable to degeneration with aging. This is why shoulder problems in the elderly are common. This lack of blood supply is also the reason why a shoulder injury can take quite a lot of time to heal.
The second cause of most shoulder injuries is due to excessive force, or simply putting too much strain on the tendons of the shoulder muscles. This usually occurs when you try to lift something that is too heavy or when a force is applied to the arm while it’s in an unusual or awkward position.
There are two common symptoms of a shoulder injury, pain and weakness. Pain is not always felt when a shoulder injury occurs, however most people who do feel pain, report that it’s a very vague pain which can be hard to pinpoint.
Weakness, on the other hand, seems to be the most reliable symptom of a shoulder injury. Common complaints include an inability to raise your arm above your head or to extend your arm directly to the side or in front. In most cases, the larger the tear or damage to the tendons, the harder it is to move your arm and the injured area.
With injury, the earlier a shoulder is treated, the better. The ﬁrst 48 to 72 hours are crucial to a complete and speedy recovery. The ﬁrst and most important course of action is the R.I.C.E.R. regime. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and Referral (if needed).
After the initial injury has been treated with the R.I.C.E.R. regime, (for at least 48 to 72 hours) it’s time to move onto the next stage of treatment. As mentioned before, the shoulder joint receives very little blood supply. So, what can you do to increase blood ﬂow, and oxygen and nutrients to the injured area?
Amongst standard eﬀective protocols of treatment programs such as; heat and massage, and rehabilitation for increasing blood ﬂow, innovative laser technology is also gaining recognition with speciﬁc rehabilitation of shoulder injuries. The Bioﬂex laser system, in particular, uses superluminous and laser diodes as a source of light, placed in contact with the skin, allowing photon energy to penetrate tissues where it interacts with various intracellular biomolecules. This results in the restoration of normal cell function and the enhancement of the body’s healing processes through cellular regeneration. The treatment is painless, non-toxic, very eﬀective and without side-eﬀects.
As with all injuries, prevention is much better than a cure. Anything you can do to prevent an injury from occurring is worth it. The prevention of shoulder injuries comes down to the conditioning of the shoulder muscles and tendons, which ultimately involves both stretching and strengthening of the shoulder joint. Also, don’t forget the common injury prevention techniques like, warming up properly and using a bit of old-fashioned common-sense. However, for the most part, stretching and strengthening are going to be your best defence against shoulder problems. Even if you don’t have a shoulder problem now, stretching and strengthening exercises could save you from a major headache in the future.