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AN A-Z OF HEAD, NECK AND ARM PAIN: SHOULDER CUFF INJURIES

It is important to understand that the shoulder is the most mobile of all the joints in our body, but it pays the price by being the easiest to dislocate or sprain. It is really a girdle and it depends on many muscles working together for its stability.

When the shoulder is hurt, it is not a simple task to realign all the soft tissue involved. Chiropractors check for neck faults as the nerves from there supply important muscles and tissue through the shoulder and down the arm. A neck adjustment if needed shortens treatment time considerably.

Many a painful incident can make an amusing story.

I’m thinking of Judy who went up into the roof to haul down a trapped possum. Trying to handle the frightened, aggressive animal, she slipped through the girders of the roof. Her daughter was highly amused at the sight of her mother hanging by the shoulders, feet dangling into the living room below. She pulled her mum out by the arms while breaking up with laughter.

It took several treatments to reposition her painful shoulder muscles, Judy’s husband, although normally a loving man, was not amused by the hole in the ceiling, and had little sympathy for the suffering wife. This was an acute injury that responded well to immediate therapy.

The dangers of delayed treatment.

A sixty-year-old woman, living alone, presented with a painful shoulder that she suffered for nine months, during which time she had been given the best medical care.

First the doctor had given her an anti-inflammatory tablet which she took religiously for weeks even though her stomach had reacted to them. Then she had two months of heat-pack treatments from a physiotherapist. Finally she had visited an orthopaedic specialist who had (thankfully) said that the joint was too bad for an operation.

On assessing her shoulder joint, I was appalled to find that months of futile treatment had allowed her shoulder girdle to waste. The muscles at the front of the shoulder into the ribs were wasted as were those of the shoulder itself, together with the muscles at the back of the rib cage.

She was a dejected mess, physically and psychologically. She couldn’t fasten her bra at the back or lift her arm to comb her hair and it was near impossible to take her dress off over her head. She couldn’t do so many of the little things that make life acceptable. She was depressed and in constant pain.

I assured her that to continue to move the shoulder was important. We started osteopathic treatment which meant encouraging blood flow to all the muscle fibres between the ribs and down the arm.

All the neck muscles had to be worked and drained of acids accumulated in the tissue through lack of adequate movement. Strapping the shoulder for three days each week was a great comfort and stopped the grating sound that made her feel distressed and insecure. That aided greatly in her healing over her six weeks of therapy. Without pain, she was then able to keep moving the arm to develop the muscles again on her own.

With the kind of treatment described above, it is normal for the tissues to secrete lactic and uric acid residue resulting in a rash.

Invariably, the patient will say, ‘Am I allergic to your oils?’ The answer is no, as the non-itchy skin reaction indicates the muscles are eliminating waste products and the soreness is decreasing. Movement is then easier, and we are on our way.

Understand that muscles do more than just move joints and stimulate blood supply: they also drain away the waste products by muscle action. If not, accumulation occurs and calcium is deposited. Also the joint can dry out if it is not nourished. Using a hot pack only for months is soothing but not curative and an operation to scrape the bone is better prevented if possible.

A difficult case sees me using acupuncture and moxibustion. After acupuncture, the look on the patient’s face as they leave with a warm moveable joint makes the effort worthwhile. The needles are inserted in the hand, elbow and shoulder with great effect in relieving the pain. Heat helps in this instance.

Every therapy helps. Homoeopathies recommended are:

Bryonia for those who feel better for rest.

Hypericum for pain from injured nerves.

Rhus tox for joints that are better for movement.

There are many others depending on the patient’s personality and individuality.

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