Healing Shoulder Injuries
Integrative Medicine Focuses on Full-body Healing
Anna was enjoying a beautiful day playing golf. She was determined to beat her opponent today. In order to win she had to make a hole in one. She made a big swing and felt a sudden pain in her shoulder. Suddenly she couldn’t move her arm to complete the swing. The pain didn’t last long and, though shoulder injuries can sneak up on you, she was able to start playing again in ten minutes. A week later, she woke up in the morning unable to move her shoulder at all.
She went to her orthopedist after a few weeks to find out what was wrong with her arm.
Everyone eventually has a musculoskeletal injury. We twist a knee, or hit a golf ball too hard (like Anna) causing our shoulder to freeze up, or spend too many hours on the computer, leading to carpal tunnel syndrome. While each injury is unique in some ways, they also have similarities.
Injuries occur because for one moment you weren’t paying attention to what you were doing, you were trying to overdo it, or your muscles got out of balance. In order to heal the injury, you do the opposite of what caused it. Stop overdoing it, pay closer attention to what you are doing, and find a way to get your muscles in balance.
Healing with Chinese Medicine
From the Chinese medicine perspective, injury causes energy blockage. Chronic pain happens when the energy blockage isn’t dealt with. Acupuncture is a wonderful way to treat/cure an energy blockage. Cyndi twisted her ankle badly while working. She came to the office immediately for acupuncture because she had had luck with it before. It helped her hardly have any problem with her ankle. If you get acupuncture early, it will prevent the swelling, pain, and aftermath of the injury.
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in September of 2012 gathered results from previous research on over 18,000 patients who had received acupuncture. They found that acupuncture outperformed sham treatments and standard care when used by people suffering from osteoarthritis, migraines and chronic back, neck and shoulder pain.
Before that fateful golf game, Anna had felt a little bit of pain in her shoulder while doing normal activities. She noticed a small problem with movement in the shoulder and ignored it, hoping it would go away.
Shoulder and neck injuries occur because we tend to lean forward most of the time with our activities, causing the muscles at the front of the shoulder and chest to be somewhat stronger than the muscles in the back. Six different muscles are responsible for the movement of your shoulder.
Preventing Shoulder Injuries During Exercise
When you exercise, you need to keep all those muscles equally strong in order to have them be balanced. Gently strengthening the back muscles will allow more balanced movement. You almost always need to do some kind of corrective exercise for healing. If you don’t know how, find a good physical therapist or Pilates instructor to guide your movements.
If any joint starts to ache in the course of exercising or any other activity, listen to your body. Either stop doing that activity or change how you are moving to see if the pain stops. Often, modifying an activity or motion can alleviate the pain and avoid injury.
All injuries are opportunities to learn how to move better. At the first sign of a shoulder injury rethink your exercise and begin to explore more consciously what it takes to move your arm. If you have been lifting weights, it’s probably advisable to use less weight and a smaller range of motion in order to find balance.
Your best bet in healing your body is to learn to listen to it. Anna didn’t want to have surgery on her shoulder so she came for acupuncture treatments. After about four sessions, along with physical therapy, she was able to move her arm normally again and get back to beating her golf opponents.