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Shoulder Pain and Clicking While Grooming

Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,

The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get Relief,
and more…

How People Describe This Pain Pattern

Patients complain of pain in the shoulder when brushing their teeth, combing their hair, putting on make-up, shaving their face, etc. Typically, patients describe this pain as achy and deep in the shoulder. Their primary complaint may also include pain while carrying something by their sides like suitcases or buckets. This trigger point usually doesn’t disturb sleep but is often involved along with other rotator cuff muscles that disturb sleep. Aggravated tendons can create tenderness at the top, outside of the shoulder.

People may also complain of clicking in the shoulder. Some can reproduce it easily, especially the people who like popping their joints. This popping is not a “healthy” pop. It’s a tendon that is twanging over a hard edge. This popping will aggravate and inflame the tendon. So, it would be best if you get it fixed so that it doesn’t pop.

How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

Don’t Let Them Pull You Down

Pulling down on the shoulder abruptly or chronically activates this pain pattern. The tendon of this muscle stops the shoulder from slipping down.

This tendon damage may occur by carrying heavy things that have a handle, like suitcases or buckets. I had an older client come in this week who created this by moving heavy cabinets to refinish her kitchen.

Another common cause is a dog that jerks on the leash. I am surprised at how many dog owners have come back repeatedly with this injury. A similar injury happens when people jerk weights during resistance training.

I had this injury occur when a bracket broke on a porch swing and hit me in the shoulder. Shoulder injuries from blunt trauma, however, are usually from sports and more often involve the deltoid.

Falling on the Stiff Arm

The supraspinatus can also get injured by jamming the arm up instead of down. If there is a fall onto the stiff arm, like this woman slipping on the ice, it jerks the arm upward in the socket. Consequently, it overstretches the tendon and aggravates the muscle. Sometimes, it tears the tendon.

As well, these people often end up with fractures in the wrist and elbow. I’ve treated several people in their 40s who decided to give a fresh start at roller skating or shoeing horses.

Start by Understanding the Anatomy.
About the coloring of the illustrations…

The structure of this muscle is more complex than it looks on the surface. Read more in this post about the anatomy of Supraspinatus.

Getting Relief on Your Own

Clinically Proven
Self-Care Strategies

There are stretches and exercises that can help. Look at this post for ideas that are clinically proven to work.

Therapy Notes for Massage and Bodywork

Better Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise

This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.

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Featured Post

Does Your Shoulder Hurt From the Covid-19 Vaccine?

This post offers quick, lasting relief from the pain in your shoulder that came from the vaccine. You will need an ice cube and about 2 minutes.

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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