Shoulder pain is a heavy weight to carry
The shoulder is not a simple joint. Its many moving parts make it extremely mobile and useful to our everyday lives, yet also leave it vulnerable to things going wrong. Read on to see why the anatomy of the shoulder makes it a vulnerable joint, and the common shoulder injuries for which people seek treatment.
The bones of the shoulder
The joint is actually made up of three bones which come together – the humerus, scapula and clavicle. Our arm (humerus) sits in a shallow groove in the shoulder blade (scapula), which attaches attaches to the collar bone (clavicle). Our collar bone makes a small joint with the breastbone, forming the shoulders only link to the trunk. This means there’s a heavy reliance on tissues surrounding the shoulder to ensure stability and proper functioning. Another joint in the shoulder is the acromioclavicular joint, formed between the scapula and the clavicle. This joint contributes to shoulder’s large range of motion but has relatively little movement itself, making it susceptible to injury during trauma.
The muscles of the shoulder
The muscles considered most crucial to shoulder stability are the rotator cuff group. These four muscles contribute to arm movement, but more importantly, they work together to ensure our humerus stays centred in its shallow socket. The tendons of these muscles attach to the top of the humerus but must travel through a relatively narrow space between the ball and the socket. Commonly, irritation of these tendons or narrowing of the joint space is a cause of shoulder pain, particularly during overhead arm movements.
Common injuries of the shoulder
Tendonosis – as mentioned above, the tendons (or tough fibres that attach muscle to bone) can become irritated due to overuse or ageing. Repeated aggravation of a tendon can cause micro tears and collagen degradation, leading to pain and often weakness with shoulder actions. Sports people like baseball pitchers or cricket fast bowlers are at risk, along with people who perform the same motion with their arms in their work or daily activities.
Impingement – this can occur when lifting the arm overhead, from structures like tendons, muscles or bursa becoming compressed or ‘impinged’. This occurs because the space between the ball of the humerus and the scapula narrows when the arm is lifted away from the body, further stressing shoulder structures that are already irritated or inflamed.
Bursitis – small fluid filled sacs, called bursa, provide cushioning in joints, between bones, muscles and tendons. Healthy bursas are designed to support movement but they are susceptible to becoming inflamed and causing pain. With bursitis, simple tasks like combing your hair and getting dressed, are difficult.
Instability – strong shoulder ligaments are the main source of stability for the shoulder, however, if overstretched they can remain lax and cause joint instability. Instability makes a person more susceptible to shoulder dislocations, can create pain with overhead actions and lead to arthritis.
Inner Balance Health Clinics have a friendly team that can manage a range of shoulder problems. Our Mill Park osteopaths, naturopaths, massage therapists and Chinese medicine practitioners use different approaches that may be effective in eliminating shoulder pain.
Inner Balance Recipe
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Slice
- 1 cup crushed peanuts*
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- 3 tablespoons cacao or cocoa
- 2 tablespoons honey**
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- pinch of salt
- 6 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon honey**
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, liquid
- 1 tablespoon coconut cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Line a square 20cm tin with baking paper overhanging the sides for easy removal.
- Place the ingredients for the chocolate layer into your processor and at high speed until the mixture is well combined and resembles a fine, sticky crumb. Press the mixture firmly into your prepared tin and set aside.
- Place the ingredients for the peanut butter layer into your processor and blend until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Pour the mixture over your base, level the top and place the slice into the fridge or freezer to set and to store.
- Slice. Serve. Eat and enjoy.
**you can use rice malt syrup if you prefer