We’re not talking about the local bar and grill here, but the shoulder!  Have you ever thought about how much we take our bodies for granted, and the shoulder carries much of the burden.

It is one of the most sophisticated and complex joints of the body.  Some thirty muscles provide movement and stability to the shoulder complex.  Did you know that our shoulders have a 360° range of motion?  Because the ball of the arm is larger than the shoulder socket that holds it, muscles, tendons and ligaments serve as anchors to hold it together.

Shoulder injuries are common in athletes: baseball, basketball, tennis and football players, as well as golfers.  Persons who use their arms to work overhead such as construction workers, and painters often complain of shoulder pain.  Injuries to the shoulder are classified as sprains, dislocations, bursitis, tendinitis, arthritis, torn rotator cuffs, and general aging.

Shoulder problems are usually treated with RICE:

Rest – take breaks from the activity that is causing the problem.

Ice – to reduce pain and swelling.

Compression – wrap the area with Ace bandage, and use a sling for the first 48 hours.

Elevation – rest the injured/sore area on a pillow while applying ice anytime you are sitting or lying.

If symptoms occur such as numbness and tingling, range of motion decreases or does not return to normal after using this process, see your physician.

While using your arms for gardening, painting, or work, try alternating your hands if possible, and take frequent breaks.  Use correct lifting methods and avoid overuse of your arms.

Other tips that apply to protecting the rest of the body, as well as the arms and shoulders:

  • Keep your bones strong by doing weight-bearing exercise (such as walking), and including plenty of calcium and Vitamin D in your diet.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • If you are in sports, wear protective gear.
  • Don’t carry objects that are too heavy.
  • Use a stepladder rather than standing on an unstable chair.
  • When riding in a car, always fasten your seatbelt.
  • Cut down on caffeine, which can increase loss of calcium.

Someone may need to cry on your shoulder someday, so keep it strong!