Why can't I lift my arm above my head?


There are many factors that can affect the shoulder range of motion....muscles, tendons, ligaments, bursa, joint capsule, nerve supply and so on. One of the most common causes is the subacromial bursa being inflamed (Subacromial bursitis).


Subacromial bursitis:

A bursa is a little 'pillow' (fluid filled sac), that sits between bones and muscles, tendons, to stop the tendon rubbing on the bone and breaking down. The subacromial bursa sits below the acromion bone and protects the supraspinatus muscle and tendon. Subacromial bursitis can is commonly caused by an injury or overuse. Overhead activity e.g. throwing, pitching, overhead lifting activities are the most common overuse activities. 



- Pain at the front of your shoulder and upper arm

- Unable to fully lift your arm above your head (GH Abduction)

- Redness & swelling

- Pain causing you to wake at night

- Pain that is worse lying on that shoulder
- Pain related to overhead activities e.g. washing hair, hanging out washing, reaching up high, lifting above your head


How can you self manage the pain:

- Rest, avoiding activities that cause your pain

- Work on improving your posture, be aware if you are hunched forwards, shoulders rolled forwards and so on, as this places more strain on your shoulder

- Sleep on your opposite shoulder or back


How can Osteopathy help you:


Always seek medical advice if you have shoulder pain, as the shoulder is highly complex, with a large variety of causes for aches and pains. Some of these may heal in their own, with rest, whilst others respond best to early intervention and treatment. Osteopathic treatment is aimed at reducing your pain, decreasing any muscle tension/tightness placing any pressure on the bursa, improving your shoulder mechanics and improving your neck + back mechanics. You may be given tailored exercises and stretches, including exercises to improve your scapula-thoracic mechanics. You may be sent for imaging to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other causes. 


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