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Shoulder pain is not fun!

I have helped many people with shoulder issues, but I don’t think I fully understood it until I injured my own shoulder. It happened just before the first covid-19 lockdown. I was attending an aerial class with my daughter and while I was climbing or hanging I felt something go. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was but I knew in that instance that I had injured my shoulder.

Over the next week my shoulder was sore, but I had full range of motion and the pain wasn’t excruciating. The next week it didn’t seem any better so I decided to go to a walk-in clinic. The doctor there sent me for an x-ray. A few days later when I got the results I was told it was arthritis. I knew it wasn’t arthritis causing my pain, was it possible to have arthritis there? Sure, but I just knew it was more.

The covid-19 lockdown happened next, so me getting in to see someone was not going to happen, at least for a while. I continued to workout at home and my shoulder got better for a bit and then it got worse. It was so bad that I could no longer raise it above my head, I lost strength in it, plus I now had numbness in my fingers. These were signs that a nerve was now involved, the pain was intense and constant.

When things finally opened up I went to see various people to try to help with my pain, chiropractor, physiotherapist and massage therapist. They didn’t help and one even made it worse. I then decided to travel and see one of my acupuncture mentors who had helped me with a previous injury. Within a few acupuncture treatments the numbness was gone. During this time I had changed up my workouts and was also doing qigong which I believe helped me immensely.

There are many ways to injure a shoulder or have shoulder pain, these include:

  • Dislocation

  • Frozen shoulder

  • Cartilage tear

  • Impingement

  • Rotator Cuff tear

  • Bursitis

  • Arthritis

Some things to ask yourself if you injured your shoulder are:

  • Do I have full range of motion?

  • How intense is the pain?

  • Is there swelling?

  • Is there any numbness or burning sensation?

  • Does the joint look different from your other one?

  • Is there any muscle weakness in the arm or hand?

Some ways to diagnose your injury is with xrays, MRI or ultrasound.

Depending on what's going on with your shoulder will determine your course of treatment. Some injuries require surgery. Some may get better with ice, rest and ibuprofen. Some injuries may benefit from massage, physiotherapy or acupuncture. Whatever injury you have, making sure you are exercising, stretching and moving the joint is important. Don’t wait to get help, it could cause further damage.

Today my shoulder is good. I pay attention to how it feels when I use it. I try not to do anything crazy and I exercise and stretch it daily. Living with pain is not fun, preventing an injury is easier than trying to fix and heal one. At the end of the day if you have injured your shoulder know that there are a number of different treatments available to you, and that not everyone benefits from the same treatment.

Lori Mitchell is a registered acupuncturist who focuses on pain relief and body movements. She is located in Lindsay at On The Go Acu.

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