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Debunking Shoulder Pain Myths: Insights from a Physiotherapist.




Today, let's delve into the realm of shoulder pain myths. Whether you're an athlete, an office worker, or just someone who enjoys moving around, chances are you've experienced that twinge in your shoulder at some point. And with shoulder pain comes a plethora of advice, some of it helpful, some not so much. So, let's roll up our sleeves, shake off those myths, and uncover some truths.



Myth #1: No Pain, No Gain


We've all heard this adage before, especially in the realm of fitness. However, when it comes to shoulder pain, pushing through discomfort can actually exacerbate the issue. Pain is your body's way of signalling that something isn't quite right. Ignoring it and soldiering on could lead to further injury and prolonged recovery time.



Myth #2: Rest is Always the Best Medicine


While rest is undoubtedly important for recovery, prolonged immobilisation can hinder shoulder rehabilitation. In fact, research suggests that early mobilisation and targeted exercises are more effective in managing shoulder tendinopathy (1).


In addition, a study completed by Santello et al emphasises the importance of exercise-based interventions over rest for various shoulder conditions (2). So, instead of staying sedentary, focus on gentle movements and exercises recommended by your physiotherapist to aid in your recovery.



Myth #3: It's All About Strengthening the Muscles


While strengthening the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint is indeed important, it's not the only piece of the puzzle. Shoulder pain can stem from various factors, including poor posture, overuse, biomechanical issues, and even psychological factors like stress and anxiety.


A comprehensive approach that addresses mobility, stability, posture, and movement patterns is crucial for long-term shoulder health. This may involve a combination of strengthening exercises, stretching, manual therapy, ergonomic adjustments, and even stress management techniques.


A study published by Turgut et al highlights the importance of addressing both strength and flexibility deficits in individuals with shoulder pain/impingement (3). So, instead of focusing solely on pumping iron, consider a holistic approach to shoulder rehabilitation.



Myth #4: Surgery Is the Only Solution


For some individuals with severe shoulder injuries or conditions, surgery may be necessary. However, it's not always the first or only option. In many cases, conservative treatments such as physiotherapy, exercise therapy, and manual therapy can effectively manage shoulder pain and improve function.


A systematic review by Green et al found that conservative treatments, including physiotherapy, were effective in reducing pain and improving function in patients with shoulder impingement syndrome and rotator cuff related issues (4). Additionally, surgery carries inherent risks and requires a significant recovery period, so it should be considered carefully after exhausting conservative options.



In conclusion, when it comes to shoulder pain, it's essential to separate fact from fiction. By debunking these common myths and adopting a holistic approach to rehabilitation, you can pave the way for a healthier, pain-free shoulder. Remember to consult with a qualified physiotherapist for personalised advice and treatment recommendations tailored to your specific needs. Your shoulders will thank you for it!


Our Barnet, Cockfosters & Enfield Physio's have tons of experience in dealing with all types of shoulder pain. Have confidence that our specialist Physiotherapists will closely assess, diagnose & treat you in the correct & evidence-based way for all injuries. You can book an appointment here.



Blog By: Emre Oz (Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at Crouch Physio).



References:


1. Littlewood, C., Ashton, J., Chance-Larsen, K., May, S. and Sturrock, B., 2012. Exercise for rotator cuff tendinopathy: a systematic review. Physiotherapy, 98(2), pp.101-109.


2. Santello, G., Rossi, D.M., Martins, J., Libardoni, T.D.C. and de Oliveira, A.S., 2020. Effects on shoulder pain and disability of teaching patients with shoulder pain a home-based exercise program: a randomized controlled trial. Clinical Rehabilitation, 34(10), pp.1245-1255.


3. Turgut, E., Duzgun, I. and Baltaci, G., 2018. Stretching exercises for subacromial impingement syndrome: effects of 6-week program on shoulder tightness, pain, and disability status. Journal of sport rehabilitation, 27(2), pp.132-137.


4. Green, S., Buchbinder, R., Hetrick, S.E. and Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group, 1996. Physiotherapy interventions for shoulder pain. Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 2013(3).

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