Suffering shoulder pain? The problem starts at your desk

by: The Chislehurst Clinic

The clock strikes 5pm and what better way to kick-start your system after a long day at work than to dash to the gym for a quick session? Whatever your fitness goals, I’m sure getting injured is not one of them, yet gym injuries are on the increase as more and more desk-based workers take on intense exercise programmes – and shoulder injuries are one of the most common problems. So take a minute to read how your work-life could contribute to the risk of injury.

Do you work tirelessly at a desk, hunched at a computer or straining down, looking at paperwork all day? The resulting poor posture – slouching, poking your chin forward and rotating your arms inwards – causes shoulders to adopt a rounded position. Nearly all of us are culprits of this. The result is a tipping of the shoulder blade causing a lack of space inside the shoulder that primes the joint for injury.

Now, imagine that you start to do some of your favourite exercises, such as shoulder presses and kettle bell swings. After a few reps, the tendons underneath the shoulder blade start to become irritated and the outcome is a gradual onset of pain in the shoulder. This is called impingement.

Your shoulder is made up of three bones: upper arm bone (humorous), shoulder blade (scapula), and your collarbone (clavicle). From the front, part of your shoulder blade (acromion) can be seen. Your arm is kept in your shoulder socket by your rotator cuff. These muscles and tendons form a covering around the head of your upper arm bone and attach it to your shoulder blade.

Shoulder impingement is where the space within the joint decreases causing a narrowed space for the tendons to pass through. This decrease in joint space is associated with poor posture. As the space becomes smaller, pinching of the tendons under the acromion bone can cause inflammation and thickening, resulting in pain.

Treatment involves, controlling inflammation, correcting posture and addressing muscle imbalances with an appropriate rehabilitation programme. If left untreated, impingement can develop into further problems such as rotator cuff tears. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described, or want guidance on how to prevent shoulder problems, it is advisable to seek treatment from a physiotherapist.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described, or want guidance on how to prevent shoulder problems in the future, make an appointment with our physiotherapists by calling 020 8467 1910.

Shoulder treatment