Updated: Nov 9, 2018
Most people who have had a shoulder injury will tell you that it can be one of the most painful and frustrating injuries to deal with. It can affect every aspect of your life from not being able to raise your arms, lift light weights, difficulty sleeping and even being unable to hang out washing or do up your bra if you ask the ladies.
As a Bowen Therapist, I am used to clients coming to me after they have "tried everything!" - many weeks and in some cases months of physiotherapy, TENS, cortisone injection, taping and anti inflammatories.
Shoulder pain can be constant and deep, grating or pinching and although worse when you are using your arm, can be unbearable when you are resting and wanting to sleep.
The pain can be directly in the shoulder joint, or radiate down the front or back of the arm, into the neck and even cause headaches.
The shoulder is a complicated and powerful joint. 4 rotator cuff muscles enable the shoulder to have such diverse range of movement and stabilise the joint. A number of surrounding muscles help to support the rotator cuff muscles in controlling and powering the joint.
Here are the most common injuries I see in my clinic -
Muscle or tendon tear - this can be partial, causing some pain, weakness and reduced range of motion or a complete tear which can give almost complete loss of strength in the arm and may require surgery . Muscle and tendon tears can come on slowly due to overuse or quickly due to trauma.
Bursitis - this inflammation of the bursa (think protective padding between the humerus and glenoid cavity) can cause pain and impingement with the arm feeling as though it is "catching" when you lift it upwards from your side. Again, this injury can come on over time due to repetitive movements or quickly following an impact. Untreated, it can last for many months or years.
Tendonitis - inflammation or strain of the tendon sheath where the muscles attach to the shoulder joint. This is often a result of repetition.
Arthritis - Degeneration of the shoulder occurs with age, history of injury or trauma. The AC joint (see above image) is a common area where we can feel clicking and a crunching sensation with movement.
Frozen Shoulder - otherwise known as Adhesive Capsulitis which often follows a shoulder injury. It involves a thickening of the capsule around the shoulder joint - it is thought to be a protective mechanism by the body to prevent further injury. This sticky casing is also known as fascia - it is a matrix which contains a significant amount of blood supply, nerve pathways and lymphatics. Bowen Therapy has a unique way of releasing and hydrating the fascia and helping the shoulder re-establish it's own path back to normal function.
Bowen Therapy can address shoulder pain, and help improve range of movement of the shoulder. Quite often there can be a dramatic improvement in the first Bowen session, however several followup sessions are generally required to maintain long lasting results.
Bowen therapy helps to "offload" the shoulder joint by gently and accurately addressing the surrounding and supporting muscles and connective tissue. As well as the shoulder, the neck, hips/pelvis and even jaw may be addressed in a Bowen session in order to help the body return to a state of dural symmetry and improve surrounding tissue tension. This can increase blood flow to speed up healing, improve lymphatic clearance of the area to reduce inflammation, and have a favourable effect on reducing tension on the supporting muscles. The reduction in tension can have a positive effect on how the pain sensing nerves of the area communicate with the nervous system.
If surgery of the shoulder has been required, and there continues to be restriction and pain in the joint after 8 weeks, the Bowen Technique and MSTR therapy (a gentle manual therapy) can also be used to help address the scar tissue tension which free up movement.
Don't despair if you have pain and stiffness in your shoulders - assessment and treatment by a qualified Bowen Therapist may be all you need to get those shoulders back to their former glory!
For enquiries, feel free to contact me at Noosa Bowen Centre on 0421 471012