Harlingen – Shoulder pain. In some cases it can be so excruciating that the patient can hardly move or sleep. But, the good news is – treatment is available to help you regain your everyday physical activity, without pain.
Dr. Cynthia Garcia, a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation and a Partner-in-Care to Harlingen Medical Center, recently spoke on "Shoulder Pain Problems" during the popular "Doc Talk" lecture series at Harlingen Medical Center.
"Shoulder pain can be so severe that the patient can't even wash their hair or shave their under-arms," Dr. Garcia said.
Common causes of shoulder injuries are trying to reach back too far while lifting something heavy. The shoulder "rotator cuff" – a tendon which attaches to the shoulder bone -- can also become torn or strained from sudden jerking motions, such as pulling too hard on the cord of a lawn mower, Dr. Garcia said.
Sports injuries can also result in shoulder injuries, such as from the throwing motion of a pitcher or other baseball player, which can result in the player / person losing their "range of motion" – to the point they may not be able to lift their arm above their head, Dr. Garcia said. Or someone could have a traumatic fall, such as while skiing, or when they use their hands to break a fall at home or elsewhere.
However, Dr. Garcia said a sedentary lifestyle, with poor posture, can also lead to a type of shoulder problem in which the rotator cuff becomes "impinged." For example, someone who works on a computer all day -- in a sitting positon, with their shoulders forward and their head down -- may experience problems because it's a "forward slouching posture" instead of a correct "upright" posture, she said.
Fortunately for those suffering shoulder problems, Dr. Garcia said there now many ways to treat the injuries without resorting to surgery in many cases. "Just keep in mind that physical therapy plays a big role – and therapy for shoulder problems should NOT hurt in most cases," Dr. Garcia said.
"There might be some soreness, but it should not be extraordinarily painful to have physical therapy for the shoulder," she added. "Our rehabilitation clinic has two board-certified physical therapists, Delin David and Lindsay Anderson, who specialize in shoulders. They manipulate the soft tissue of the shoulder gently, to relax the muscles, release the tension, and improve the range of motion."
Many patients who have a "frozen shoulder" condition can also benefit from acupuncture treatment, Dr. Garcia said.
There is also a relatively-new type of treatment, called "platelet-rich plasma" injection, in which medical professionals take a small amount of the patient's own blood, spin it in a centrifuge to separate the components of the blood, and then inject just the plasma into the injured area of the shoulder, to promote healing.
"In the office, we use ultrasound to pinpoint the injection into a tear in the shoulder," Dr. Garcia added. "We also use ultrasound to diagnose many musculoskeletal problems. For example, I am able to see a rotator cuff tear without having to do an MRI."
Avoiding having an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan is especially beneficial for patients who get "claustrophobic" while in an MRI machine – as well as those who can't afford the higher cost of the MRI test.
For more information on shoulder pain, Dr. Garcia's office can be reached at 956-412-2200 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Doc Talk lectures at Harlingen Medical Center, please contact the HMC Business Development and Marketing Department at (956) 365-1848.