How to Self-Diagnose Your Shoulder Pain

#4. AC Joint Compression

AC stands for the acromial-clavicular joint, which where the shoulder blade connects to the collarbone. An AC joint separation or AC joint sprain is a common injury to the ligament that holds the acromioclavicular joint together at the top of the shoulder, typically caused by fall onto an outstretched arm.

To perform the test, sit on a chair and have your partner place one hand at the front of your shoulder joint and one hand at the rear, then slowly press on both sides of the shoulders to compress the AC joint. If this feels painful, joint separation is highly possible. An additional indicator of AC joint separation is experiencing pain while raising the arm upward.

#5. Rotator Cuff Tear

If you’re experiencing pain when lying on the affected shoulder; when lifting (especially above the head), lowering and rotating your arm; or a crackling or snapping sensation when moving your shoulder in certain positions, your rotator cuff might be torn.

To test it, sit with a straight back and relaxed shoulders and have your partner raise the painful arm to the side and parallel to the floor, and let it drop – if the arm drops involuntarily and you are unable to maintain that parallel position, you may have a rotator cuff tear. The chances are even greater if you find yourself trying to compensate by elevating the scapula toward the ear.


Rotator Cuff Tear

There’s another test you can do to assess the status of the supraspinatus, one of the four small rotator cuff muscles which runs along the top of the shoulder blade and inserts via the tendon at the top of the arm or humerus bone, and is involved in shoulder abduction. You can do this either seated or whilst standing. Lift the painful arm forward and to the side about 45 degrees, then pronate your wrist so the palm of your hand faces down to the floor. Now your partner should gently but firmly push your arm down – if you are unable to maintain your arm’s position because of pain or weakness, a supraspinatus tear is highly possible.

#6. Frozen Shoulder

A frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) may happen after an injury or overuse or even from a disease such as a heart stroke or diabetes. It occurs slowly over time and is characterized by stiffness, pain and limited range of movement in your shoulder. As the tissues around the joint stiffen, scar tissue forms and limits the functional use of the arm, making it increasingly difficult to reach overhead or scratch your back.

Since there is no specific, formal way of diagnosing a frozen shoulder, you can test yourself by performing this simple procedure at home:

Stand in front of a mirror and have your partner observe you as you try to move the arm and shoulder, paying attention to the range and quality of motion of the shoulder joint. Slowly raise both arms to the front and overhead, as far as possible. If you have adhesive capsulitis, your affected arm may only come up to a point slightly past parallel to the floor and you’re most likely to experience general pain in the shoulder. Slowly lower the arm down, then lift it out to the side. If this is painful and your arm can’t move past parallel to the ground, that’s another indicator of a frozen shoulder syndrome.

Finally, stand with both arms at the sides and elbows flexed at 90 degrees, then externally rotate the arms outward. The arm affected with the frozen shoulder condition will not be able to rotate outward.

These tests can be used by anyone who wants to get a clearer picture about the health status of his shoulders. If you find out that you do have one or more specific shoulder injuries, the good news are that most of these ailments can be alleviated with the help of proper rest and nutrition.

The three major issues that can cause shoulder pain are issues with flexibility, strength and motor control. If you’re training regularly, it’s of crucial importance to improve your form and technique so that you can eliminate the habits which generate pain.

However, if you’re frequently experiencing shoulder pain, try to avoid the gym for a while and avoiding causing any excessive stress to the shoulders. As they begin to heal, make sure to begin a shoulder-strengthening routine that will engage all muscles and tendons involved in the shoulder complex in order to improve both your flexibility and strength. The most important thing here is consistency – do a bit every day and you’ll get results.

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