Is it really? Do we want to stop and think about that for a second?
How would you….
Probably best not to actually, but, a good example of a metaphor we use to describe pain.
It is possible to severely damage your shoulder.
Absolutely, I’ve done it myself to both of my shoulders.
BUT, I remember the exact time and place and both involved being slammed into the ground on a rugby field by what felt like Jonah Lomu.
Also, while they were damaged, they are now completely fine, don’t hurt and let me do anything i’m strong enough to do.
So, when you say you’re shoulders are f@#$+&, you probably mean they hurt when you do something and they have for a while.
That on it’s own sounds a lot less dramatic.
Now, another important question.
What have been told is wrong with your shoulder?
AND - what has been found on a scan of your shoulder?
Let me guess - BURSITIS!!!!
AAAGGGHHHHH the bursa is coming to get me!!!!
Or - a rotator cuff tear.
I have some important news. Stop what you are doing and listen carefully.
Both of those things are completely NORMAL!!!!
They exist in people with ZERO shoulder pain.
There is absolutely no link between what is in your scan and where, when or how much pain is in your shoulder.
Just because these changes are on your scan does NOT mean your shoulder has to hurt and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s f@#$+&.
All that scan says is that you have a normal shoulder.
You have a gazillion bursae in your body. They get inflamed, or not, all the time. It’s part of doing their job.
If you have a sore shoulder, you’ll have an angry bursa.
NOT THE OTHER WAY ROUND!!!
Cuff “tears” are similar.
The word “tear” makes you think that everything has detached. The word tear in this sense means there is some separation in one part of the tissue. Like putting your fork in a steak. It’s all still attached. It is also completely normal. If you are over 30 there is a good chance you’ll have some changes like this on a scan, and the more over 30 the more chance you have.
SO, SMARTY PANTS, why does my shoulder hurt??
Most of the time, ESPECIALLY when it has been there for a while or you haven’t been smashed into the ground by the biggest human on the planet, it is a REACTION to the amount of work it is doing being too close to what your nervous system deems is dangerous.
It hurts to tell you to stop. Pain is a protector.
It is a reaction. Bursitis is a symptom.
The problem with thinking it’s damaged is you stop using it. It gets weaker, stiffer and less coordinated. So if the pain is related to how much danger your nervous system thinks your shoulder is in, what happens when the shoulder is worse at doing it’s job?
More danger, more pain.
This sticks around until you can prove that the shoulder is capable of doing more.
To make your shoulder hurt less you have to make it do more.
That’s it. Simple.
It is not easy to make a painful and dysfunctional shoulder work well again, it takes time and is hard work. But is a fairly straight forward process.
Move more, get strong, get good at doing the things you want to do.
It’s not as fancy as an injection, or an arthroscope. But it is more effective.
Exercise and strengthening your shoulder is THE MOST effective treatment.
Stop thinking you can’t help your shoulder.
Stop listening to people telling you there is nothing you can do.
If it has been there for a long time, forget injections, especially if you have had one before and it didn’t do anything.
Get some good advice, some decent help and get strong.
Get better at doing the things you want to do and keep doing them.