Wednesday December 29, 2010

Upper Back May Cause Shoulder Problems

A common complaint in our practice is difficulty with reaching, due to pain, weakness, stiffness, or any combination. Typically these complaints are located in or around the shoulder. If treatment is only focused on the shoulder, proper function will not be achieved and any symptom relief will be short-lived.

Other body regions may be the true culprit. The mid- to upper-back (thoracic spine) region is often at fault. A 1999 study in Archive of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation found that when in a slouched position, motion of the shoulder blade and overhead movements were negatively affected.

If the shoulder blade does not move properly, impingement of the shoulder structures such as the rotator cuff can occur.  The result is shoulder pain and weakness.  When left untreated, permanent impairments can occur.

Given the frequency of forward-head posture presentations, it is vital that the thoracic spine be assessed for posture, flexibility, and strength.

If you or a family member has difficulty with reaching due to pain, weakness, or stiffness, call a New Life Physical Therapist to schedule a physical therapy examination. They will determine causative factors and prescribe a corrective strategy.

Kebaetse, McClure, Pratt. Thoracic Position Effect on Shoulder Range of Motion, Strength, and Three-Dimensional Scapular Kinematics.  Archive of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 1999; 80; 945-50

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