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Why isn't my shoulder getting better?

This week's question

I've done every shoulder exercise under the sun. Why isn't my shoulder getting better?

My answer - As always, "it depends" and "I don't know until I asses" but I have seen this scene play out enough times to know it typically boils down to a few reasons.

1. There is severe structural damage to your shoulder.

If you have a complete tear, fracture, etc. exercise may not be enough to help your shoulder. You may require a period of rest and/or surgical intervention. As much as I would like to believe PT can fix every injury, sometimes it just can't.

2. You haven't looked at the relationship between the shoulder and the rest of your body.

In the absence of a significant trauma, this is the more likely reason. You may remember the song from elementary school that when something like "the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone is connected to the hip bone" and while that is a riveting tune, it does leave out that there are also muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments that connected each of our body parts to the others.

It is rare that we lie still and just move a single body part, and even if we do, that is rarely a complaint I hear. Typically it goes something more like, it hurts to lift up my kid because of my shoulder, or my shoulder pinches when I lift overhead. What we forget, is that the rest of our body exists while we do those movements, and the position that it is in, as well as the strength and stability of the rest of our body affects how and how well our shoulder works.

Therefore, before zoning in on just the shoulder for rehab, it is important to look at how the shoulder blade sits on the ribcage, the relationship between the ribcage and pelvis, and so on and so forth.

If you need help understanding how one injured body part can affect/be affected by the rest, shoot us an email at!

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