Chronic injuries require rehabilitation programs that cater for the specific needs of the injury and a long-term approach. Patience is required for these rehabilitation programs and it is essential to remember that the problem has developed over a period of years and will not be fixed in a matter of weeks or months. Progress should be reached in the short-term, but such situations usually require consistent, ongoing attention to achieve the long-term solution.
Applying the appropriate rehabilitation program to chronic injuries is critically important and chiropractic care can be of great assistance in achieving the maximum rewards out of your rehabilitation. Regular chiropractic care can improve the mobility of your spinal column and remove nerve interference which may cause tight, inflamed muscles. The end result is an optimized body for good health and full function. By enabling the maximum mobility of the spine and maximum function of your nerve system, regular chiropractic care can help to maximize your body’s ability to recover from chronic injury.
As we get older, years of mechanical stress can lead to the deterioration of joints, ligaments, and tendons. This degenerative process, more commonly known as arthritis, primarily affects the weight-bearing joints in the body such as the hips and knees and those found in the lumbar spine. The shoulder, too, is also prone to undergo arthritic changes due to its extreme mobility. The extensive range of motion at the shoulder is built-in to the design of this structure, but the sacrifice for this is major instability.
Degenerative disorders of the shoulder joint typically involve the rotator cuff. This broad, flat structure is made up of the muscle-tendon units of the four rotator cuff muscles: the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor. The thick covering of the rotator cuff surrounds the head of the arm bone and gives support and strength to the shoulder joint. But due to the shoulder’s inherent instability contrasted with its great mobility, the soft tissues of the rotator cuff constantly undergo repetitive stress and strain. Ultimately, degenerative changes may occur, leading to the two prominent symptoms of pain and restricted range of motion.
Chronic Pain and Rehabilitation
An entire orthopedic sub-specialty focuses on treatment of chronic shoulder pain and includes long-term use of anti-inflammatory medication, corticosteroid injections when medications cannot, or do not provide sufficient relief, and eventually surgery to repair tears in the various rotator cuff tendons.
The good news is that in many of these cases, a more optimal approach is available, one that utilizes the body’s own natural recuperative powers. For many people, chronic shoulder pain can be reduced and chronic loss of mobility can be improved by engaging in certain activities and by applying a specific rehabilitative program. The goals of these rehabilitation programs are to increase the shoulders range of motion and build up its strength. As these goals are accomplished, the likely results are a reduction of intensity and frequency of occurrence of shoulder pain.
Your Rehabilitation Program
Engaging in an overall strength training program is an important approach to managing chronic shoulder pain. Strength training should be completed progressively, starting with lighter weights and progressing to heavier weights over time. If a person has experienced an acute shoulder injury, early rehabilitation should precede rehabilitative strength training. Early rehabilitation includes pendulum exercises and finger-walking up a wall in both forward-facing and side positions.
Your chiropractor is experienced in injury rehabilitation and will be able to help you design an effective flexibility and strengthening program for improved shoulder function.
For Your Health,
Dr. Joseph Gambardella, Dr. Todd Brown and Dr. Benjamin Erb