Shoulder Pain: Fact vs. Fiction

There are so many myths out there about pain, it’s hard to know what to believe and what to just dismiss. Shoulder pain is something that I know is difficult to really understand, because it’s not one of the most “common” pains, like back pain for instance. Shoulder pain is something that isn’t overly common, but it can be very serious and scary.

I want to talk to you about the top 4 shoulder myths I’ve heard, and tell you what I know to be true about shoulder pain.

Myth #1: An MRI is the only way to know to diagnose your shoulder pain. This is something that I hear a lot from people who want to try therapy, but want an MRI first. They’ll call our clinic and say they want to get an MRI before they come in so we can fully understand what’s going on, or they ask if we can do x-rays here. We don’t have that because we don’t believe you always need to get an MRI to figure out what’s going on with your pain. Our therapists are skilled at diagnosing the problem, no expensive x-rays necessary. I believe people sometimes are just naturally comforted by the idea of MRIs- it’s very tech-y, and a shiny, expensive machine that people think will give them all the answers, but that doesn’t mean it’s always necessary.

Myth #2: Neck and shoulder pain is “just a part of aging”. WRONG! While it’s true that there are some aches and pains that come along with getting older, it doesn’t mean that you should just live with it. Some shoulder pain can come from an old injury that never healed, and someone will do something that brings it back up, or exacerbates the problem. Some people don’t even feel their pain anymore after a certain amount of time because they’re used to it. There are many things you can do as you age to make sure that you stay out of pain, but a lot of people don’t so when problems arise they chalk it up to “old age.” YOU can change how good/bad your body ages by doing things such as staying active, using the right pillow for you, etc.

Myth #3: When you get shoulder pain, take a few Advil and ice it. It’ll get better on its own. I get that the first instinct when you have pain is to reach for the pill bottle. It’s the fastest, easiest way to relieve pain. But it’s like if you wanted to mute the volume on a speaker and just throw a towel over it. Sure, it’s going to muffle it, but it won’t stop the noise from coming out. It’s the same mindset with pain. Ice and pain meds are OK if you’re in a pinch, but if you really want to get out of pain and make it last, you need to see a professional.

Myth #4: You can’t hide from shoulder surgery. Guess again. While there is a time and place for surgery for shoulder injuries, it should never be the first choice in my opinion. There are a lot of ways to naturally heal your shoulder pain that don’t involve surgery, injections, or even pills. It seems to me these days that I’ll speak with someone who hasn’t had shoulder pain very long, or pain that isn’t super severe, and they’re telling me they already have a surgery scheduled to fix it! Not only is that jumping the gun, doing something that is time consuming, and possibly expensive, there are a lot of things to consider for AFTER you get surgery. There might be several weeks, even months, or years, of recovery. The pain may never fully go away, and you might not even get mobility back in your shoulder. Then what what was the surgery even for??

I have heard an endless amount of myths about shoulder pain, and I always love de-bunking them, because people really don’t know who they can trust, and what’s real and what’s fake. You may even not trust me, but my opinion is always the same- don’t just run for the bottle of pills, or sit on your pain. Get help when it strikes to avoid last resort options like surgery, or worse- just living with the pain .

If you or someone you know is struggling with shoulder pain, do something about it NOW. Call our clinic at 512-730-0231 to get help with shoulder pain and get back to doing what you love again.