Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,
The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get Relief,
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. The pain is usually described as being 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 do. When the tendons are particularly aggravated, there is 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 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, you should 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 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 carrying 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
This can also get injured by jamming the arm the other way. 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.
Getting Relief on Your Own
There are stretches and exercises that can help. Look at this post for ideas that are clinically proven to work.
Treatment Notes for Massage and Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise.
This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.
This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began improving the format. We are also adding more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We appreciate your input and feedback. You will see us adding posts and updating older posts as time permits.
Weekly Featured Post
This patient had recovered from a frozen shoulder but developed shoulder pain at the end of his golf swing. More traditional neuromuscular techniques weren’t working. Chiropractic wasn’t working. Integrative Craniosacral was the right solution for lasting relief.
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.
*This site is undergoing major changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistency in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.