Most of us take our shoulders for granted. As the most mobile joint in the human body, the shoulders support us in countless tasks and motions throughout the day, from brushing our teeth to lifting heavy boxes. But with this flexibility comes the fact that shoulders are extremely prone to injuries, even from these daily activities. For people who play sports, these risks can skyrocket. But with the right shoulder pain chiropractic care, you can continue playing knowing that you are staying in alignment.
Below are some of the top reasons you may feel pain in your shoulder as an athlete.
A SLAP tear is a tear in the ring of cartilage or labrum that surrounds the socket of your shoulder joint. Rather than a single traumatic event or injury, these tears usually occur over time as a result of repetitive overhead motions like throwing a baseball, playing tennis or volleyball, or strokes used in swimming. Because it is a gradual tear, you may be able to catch these issues early on.
Some signs of a forming SLAP tear include:
- Clicking, grinding, locking, or popping sensations in your shoulder.
- A decrease in power from your shoulder.
- The feeling that your shoulder may “pop out of place.
- Pain that occurs with certain movements, like throwing a ball.
- A decrease in range of motion and trouble with reaching.
- A deep, aching pain that you can’t quite pinpoint the source of in the shoulder.
When your ligaments, muscles, and tendons stop adequately securing your shoulder joint, the result is the round, top part of your upper arm bone (humeral head) dislocating or popping out of the shoulder socket, or partially coming out of the socket. This is known as shoulder instability and is commonly called dislocation. Athletes who participate in contact sports like football or hockey, as well as sports that require repetitive motions like baseball, are prone to this condition.
Dislocation presents with a sudden onset of severe pain, though partial dislocation may appear as short bursts of pain. Other symptoms can include weakness and lack of movement in the arm, swelling and bruising on the arm, or a clear deformity.
There is a common misconception that you can simply “pop” the joint back into place if you suffer a dislocation, but this can be dangerous. Always visit a doctor before attempting this.
Rotator Cuff Injury
The rotator cuff is an important component of the shoulder, comprised of the muscles and tendons that hold the three bones of the joint together. The rotator cuff muscles provide the ability to lift our arms and reach overhead. The rotator cuff can become damaged through overuse of the arm, or the tendons in the rotator cuff can tear.
These injuries are characterized by weakness in the shoulder, reduced range of motion, stiffness, and achy pain. The pain is often experienced with certain movements and is worse at night, causing trouble sleeping on the injured side.
Without proper treatment, rotator cuff injuries can worsen to the point that the shoulder can never regain full function.
In athletes who are older or who repeatedly use their arms for overhead motions, small bony spurs can develop and trap the rotator cuff tendons above the main shoulder joint. This causes an achy pain on the front and side of the shoulder, especially when the arm is extended upwards or to the side.
Impingement can occur after a rapid increase in activity without proper warming up, a strength imbalance, postural issues, or poor training techniques. In addition to rest and pain management, impingement treatment is often followed by exercises and training designed to prevent the problem from occurring again.
Seeking Treatment for Shoulder Pain
Any shoulder pain should be taken seriously, and for athletes, this is even more true. Ignoring minor pain and other symptoms can worsen problems, and it may become impossible to continue playing your sport without treatment. Treatment can also include preventative measures to help you avoid injuries in the future. In fact, many professional athletes have chiropractors on staff for this purpose.
The team at AICA Snellville will work with you to reduce pain and help you meet your athletic goals and return to full activity as soon as possible. Whether you are a professional athlete or someone who just enjoys recreational physical activity, call us today to schedule your appointment.