My Shoulder Popped And Now It Hurts
When you’re old enough to have a beer party in your backyard with all of your friends, it’s inevitable that someone will ask if they can borrow your shoulder. The reason? They want to see how much weight you’ve been lifting lately. If you’re like me, the answer is always “no.” You don’t want anyone to think you’re weak.
With our busy lives today though, we often forget about some of the simple things that cause pain. For example, when was the last time you did one of those shoulder rolls where you roll up your sleeve past your elbow, then pull on one side until you get to your elbow? Or maybe you do something similar but instead of pulling toward your elbow, you rotate so that your arm is at a 90 degree angle? Doing either of these exercises could result in a popped or dislocated shoulder.
There are many different reasons why people pop their shoulders. Some people simply aren’t aware of what they should be doing to keep their shoulders healthy. Others may not know how to properly stretch out their shoulder muscles before exercising. Finally, there are also a number of other factors such as poor posture, an imbalance in the body, muscle weakness, etc., which can contribute to a person developing joint issues.
As with any type of injury, prevention is key. Below is a list of the most common symptoms associated with a popped shoulder. After reading this article, you’ll hopefully learn more about how to prevent yourself from having a slipped disc.
Rotator Cuff Tear – This is by far the most common cause of shoulder popping. With a rotator cuff tear, the tendons (which connect the bones in the upper part of the arm) become detached from the bone within the humerus (upper arm). When this happens, the ends of the tendons begin to rub together creating friction. Over time, this rubbing can eventually lead to tearing of the tendons.
Bursitis – Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa sacs, which are fluid-filled cushions located between the skin and the underlying tissue. Pain associated with bursitis usually occurs because of excessive pressure being placed on the inflamed area. In addition to causing pain, bursitis can sometimes cause swelling and tenderness over the affected area.
Labrum Tear – A labrum tear refers to damage done to the cartilage that covers the top portion of the glenohumeral joint (the ball-and-socket joint where the head of the femur attaches to the upper arm). Because the labrum acts as a protective cushion for the joint, injuries to the labrum can cause severe pain, stiffness, loss of range of motion, instability, and even limited mobility.
Biceps Tendon Rupture – Sometimes referred to as a subluxation, a rupture of the long head of the biceps tendon can occur after repetitive use of the related muscle. A ruptured tendon can be caused by overextension of the forearm or flexion of the elbow, which puts too much stress on the tendons. Most cases of tendon ruptures require surgery and physical therapy, however.
Arthritis – Arthritis typically affects the joints and is characterized by pain, inflammation, and decreased movement due to deterioration of the cartilage around the joint. There are two types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and results in the breakdown of cartilage that protects the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the synovium, which is the lining inside the joints. Unlike osteoarthritis, patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis experience chronic inflammation that leads to the formation of nodules and thickening of the synovial membrane. These changes make the joints less mobile and susceptible to deformity.
If you suffer from any of these conditions, you should consult your doctor immediately. Your physician may order x-rays, MRI scans, blood tests, or an arthroscopic examination to determine whether you have suffered a serious injury.
Although the majority of shoulder injuries are very painful, there are times when they go unnoticed. One of my clients came into my office after hurting his shoulder while playing golf. He had no idea what happened, but I noticed he had a significant limp. Upon further questioning, he admitted that he’d injured himself while swinging during a drive. He said that he wasn’t sure exactly what had occurred, but he figured he must have hit the ground awkwardly. Unfortunately, the problem was much worse than he thought. His shoulder was severely dislocated and required medical attention. Had he not come in right away, it would have been difficult to put the shoulder back in place. Fortunately, he didn’t wait too long and got help quickly.
While dislocations are certainly painful, they aren’t necessarily debilitating. However, if left untreated, they can progress into complete immobility. It doesn’t take much force to move the shoulder forward and backward. Once the shoulder moves out of its normal position, the capsule surrounding the joint becomes stretched beyond its limit. Eventually, the capsule will rip apart allowing the acromioclavicular (AC) joint to separate completely from the rest of the shoulder. At this point, the patient loses the ability to perform basic movements and has difficulty getting dressed, bathing, eating, or sleeping comfortably.
In order to avoid future complications, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Although it might seem intimidating, a dislocation isn’t nearly as bad as it seems. In fact, it’s easier than putting your hand through a ring finger. Just remember to follow the steps below to reduce the risk of re-injuring yourself:
1. Keep your eyes focused straight ahead and look down at your shoulder. Don’t bend your head to see anything else.
2. Grasp your dislocated shoulder firmly with both hands. Remember, you need to stabilize the joint.
3. Try to relax your entire body.
4. Slowly lower your arms without moving your head.
5. Make sure your elbows stay close to your sides.
6. Lower your body only as low as comfortable.
7. Move slowly to minimize the chance of re-dislocating your shoulder.
8. Hold onto something sturdy to allow gravity to bring your shoulder back into alignment.
9. Be careful not to push yourself up suddenly; this may cause additional trauma.
10. Stay calm throughout the process.
11. Follow these instructions until your shoulder returns to its normal position.
It’s best to visit your doctor as soon as possible after injuring yourself. During your initial appointment, your doctor will examine your shoulder and offer suggestions for preventing future injuries. He or she may refer you to a physical therapist who specializes in treating orthopedic injuries. Physical therapists provide services designed to improve strength and flexibility, restore proper function, and relieve pain. As mentioned above, physical therapy is extremely effective when used in conjunction with medication or surgery.
A good physical therapist will teach you how to safely perform certain activities. For instance, if you have knee or hip problems, you may find it beneficial to practice walking using a cane. Without a cane, it can be dangerous to walk upright. Likewise, if you have back problems, your therapist may recommend ways to increase your core stability. Core stability refers to the muscles that support the spine and pelvis. Poor core stability can negatively affect your balance and impair your ability to maintain a neutral spinal alignment. Therefore, improving your core stability will increase your overall health and wellness.
After evaluating your condition, your therapist will develop a personalized exercise program specific to your needs. Depending upon your current level of fitness, your plan of action may involve strengthening exercises, stretching, mobility work, or combinations thereof. Exercising with weights is particularly helpful for rehabilitating injuries to the anterior deltoids (front of the shoulder), pectorals (chest muscles), triceps brachii (back of the arm), and rhomboids (muscles near the base of the neck). Stretching exercises help loosen tight muscles that may be restricting full range of motion. Mobility work helps decrease tightness and increases circulation to your extremities. Together, these techniques promote healing and restore normal functions.
Your therapist will design a safe and appropriate exercise routine based on your individual capabilities. By following his or her advice, you will gradually strengthen and build new muscle mass, thereby increasing your overall fitness levels.
At the end of the day, the main goal is to get your shoulder back in shape. Even if you’re not active, maintaining a strong core is essential to good health. So start taking care of yourself now!
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