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That Mysterious Shoulder Pain

BY DR. ARNAN SISSON PT (June 23, 2023)

A common statement that I hear from my clients is, “How did I get this crazy shoulder pain? It came out of nowhere.” Believe it or not, folks can get shoulder pain from lifting something heavy and also dropping it, moving the wrong way or even from an accident that affected the shoulder itself, but, more often than not, most folks don’t know how it started. The thing about the shoulder joint is it’s basically a ‘golf ball on top of a tee,” meaning in the joint you have the arm bone and its ball end, and on the top end of the shoulder, you have the socket.

The shoulder has a lot of movement, but it is also very unstable and prone to injury. What causes a lot of pain in the shoulder are things that happen over time such as postural stresses. More often than not, people will get some sort of treatment albeit maybe a gadget, creams, gels, anti-inflammatory pills to treat the pain—there’s a lot of different options for people out there—but the pain will actually come back in two to three weeks. In order to get rid of the pain, you really need to get to the root cause of it, and when you can address that, you can really get the outcome you want. The two major things I look for when I see people with shoulder issues is what positions they are taking up throughout the day and excessive motions.

For example, I had a woman that came into the clinic a few days back who worked an office job and was constantly answering phones with her right arm—picking the phone up and talking for about 10 minutes each call. The shoulder, like any joint in the body, doesn’t like to hold one position for a long period of time, which leads to shoulder pain. I explained to her that a simple way to combat this issue is switching the hand you use each time you answer the phone. Along with that, she was also constantly clicking the keyboard and mouse to her computer, and that repetitive movement of reaching forward over time contributed to her right shoulder pain. So, I simply told her to scoot up closer to her desk and get a 90 degree angle at the elbow. The closer you are to it, the less you'll need to make that forward movement.

Something you also want to look at throughout the day is prolonged positions. More often than not, people are in a slouched position and what that does is tighten the muscles in the front of the body and elongates/stretches the ones in the back, which creates a situation where you’re prone to have pain. So simply get up every 30 minutes to change position, use a lumbar roll to get better posture and focus on pushing the shoulders back when sitting.

Anyone working an office job, think about certain movements or positions you get in a lot throughout the day, think about ways you can get out of those bad positions and cut down on the amount of movements you’re doing. What me and a lot of folks do during their sessions, is figure out ways to treat the aches and pains but also prevent them.

I hope that helps clear up this frustrating situation. That’s going to be it for today, remember movement is medicine!

P.S. These tips will not only help you treat but PREVENT shoulder pain from coming back. If you'd like some additional help, check out my FREE neck/shoulder pain report that gives out some great, simple tips to fix this common problem by visiting