Cyclists And Shoulder Pain...

I don't think there are that many athletes out there without a shoulder injury. As for me, I suffer from remnants of three class three separations. Everyday this thing hurts, and lately the pain has gotten worse. I hate my shoulder pain!

The shoulder joint is composed of three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone). Your shoulders are the most movable joints in your body. They can also be unstable because the ball of the upper arm is larger than the shoulder socket that holds it. To remain in a stable or normal position, the shoulder must be anchored by muscles, tendons and ligaments. Because the shoulder can be unstable, it is the site of many common problems. And cyclists already have some major problems to begin with - freaks! I've outlined a few of the major cycling-related injuries and some particular treatments. You might think of this blog as me trying to help myself through this chronic pain!

Signs and Symptoms of Clavicle Fracture
Pain and an inability to raise the arm is one sign of a shoulder fracture. The pain may be moderate or severe and may accompany redness and bruising. Some fractures are obvious because the bones in the should simply look out of place. The diagnosis (and severity) is made with an X-ray.

Signs and Symptoms Of Shoulder Separation
A shoulder separation occurs after a fall or a sharp blow to the top of the shoulder. This injury is usually sports related. This is not the same as a shoulder dislocation, which occurs at the large joint where the arm attaches to the shoulder, although the two appear to be the same. The shoulder separation, or acromioclavicular (AC) dislocation, is an injury to the junction between the collarbone and the shoulder. It is usually a soft-tissue or ligament injury but may include a fracture (broken bone).

Signs and Symptoms Of Shoulder Dislocation
If your shoulder is wrenched upward and backward, you may have dislocated it out of its socket. This condition is both painful and incapacitating. The force required is often that of a fall or a collision with another person or object (both of which can occur during many sports).

Most shoulder dislocations happen at the lower front of the shoulder, because of the particular anatomy of the shoulder joint. The bones of the shoulder are the socket of the shoulder blade (scapula) and the ball at the upper end of the arm bone (humerus). The socket on the shoulder blade is fairly shallow, but a lip or rim of cartilage makes it deeper. The joint is supported on all sides by ligaments called the joint capsule, and the whole thing is covered by the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is made up of four tendons attached to muscles that start on the scapula and end on the upper humerus. They reinforce the shoulder joint from above, in front, and in back, which makes the weakest point in the rotator cuff in the lower front.

Didn't this last one make you want to throw up... I couldn't imagine suffering from this injury. Alas there are some remedies out there, but not many. Below is a weak attempt at a list of options (I say weak, because only surgery seems the main way to help healing and reduce pain).
  • Sling it: if a professional sling is not available, rig one by tying a long piece of cloth in a circle (a bed sheet or towel may do nicely). 
  • Brace it like an old man: a pillow placed between the arm and body may also help support the injured shoulder.
  • Rub TigerBalm all over it: I love this stuff... It helps numb my pain, so try it out... 
  • Rest: yeah right! Rest is one of the best remedies, but who wants to do that! We need to shred, not rest! 
Perhaps these help, or maybe you have others, overall shoulder injures are a tough one. Good luck on your healing, or dealing with the pain as I am... 

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