Pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint is one of the commonest things I see in practice. It typically affects people in late middle age and older. They often complain of chronic aching in the top of the arm, sharp pains on certain movements e.g. reaching forward or putting on a seatbelt and difficulty lying on the affected side. The symptoms can persist for several months and can result in progressive loss of movement. In some cases the shoulder becomes so restricted normal use is impossible and the shoulder becomes ‘frozen’.
In most cases shoulder pain is due to damage or degeneration affecting the rotator cuff tendons which move the shoulder around. A combination of age-related wear and postural changes in later life make this area vulnerable to damage and poor circulation and constant use tend to maintain the condition.
Shoulder problems, as anyone treating them will tell you, can be stubborn and slow to heal. Osteopaths tend to treat them with massage, stretching and joint articulation to try and improve the range of movement and speed up the healing process. It is also vital that patients do a suitable exercise regime at home and avoid any activities that aggravate the condition. Most shoulder problems will improve with time and persistence but some will need referring for either a cortisone injection or, rarely, surgery. Your osteopath will have seen and treated many of them and can give you good advice.