My Shoulder Hurts – Will a Google Search Help?

April 20, 2018 5:36 pm Published by

Thanks to the internet, we have more information at our fingertips than ever before. Whatever your question, you can find an answer. The most asked questions on Google are: what is my IP?, what time is it? and how do I register to vote? These are simple questions with simple answers. But what if your question is more complex than this? Should you still do a Google search for a solution for the pain that you are experiencing? Information Overload! Having so much information at our fingertips can be immediately helpful to educate us; however there are situations where having access to so much information can be overwhelming and confusing. Determining what information is evidence based and accurate can be challenging. Without a solid understanding of physiology, anatomy and biology it’s difficult to understand what exercises are appropriate. Misinformation may lead you to attempt dangerous DIY versions of Physiotherapy. Shoulder pain is common. The chance of developing shoulder pain over a lifetime may be as high as 66%. Rotator cuff dysfunctions are the most prevalent cause of shoulder pain. If you Google rotator cuff exercises, you will get just under 3 million hits. Trying to manage your own health by taking it into your own hands to educate yourself is a great starting point. The problem with searching online for the answer is the amount of information available. There is valuable online content; however the challenge becomes sorting between what is good advice and what advice is not accurate. For instance, if we go back to our rotator cuff exercise search, the first recommendation that comes up is to stretch the front of the shoulder with a doorway stretch. Yes, this is true that the front of the shoulder often gets tight, but putting your shoulder in this position is usually very pain provoking and may make symptoms worse.

What else does our Google search tell us we should do for our shoulder pain? A lot! So many exercises – how do you pick and choose? Do you pick the site that claims “top 3 rotator cuff exercises?” That is a big claim for an exercise, assuming that you actually have a rotator cuff problem. Determining the correct exercise for your unique pain presentation involves a lot of clinical reasoning by your Therapist. Before an exercise is prescribed, your Physiotherapist is evaluating many things; is your pain at rest or with movement, is your shoulder stiff, what muscles are weak, is it a motor control issue, what makes your pain worse, what are your goals and what is your present level of fitness. Challenge Your Beliefs When you Google shoulder rotator cuff injury, you are treating yourself like you are just a shoulder when you are so much more. You are a human being with specific attitudes and beliefs that play a huge role in your ability to improve. Your beliefs about pain, your understanding of pain and your thoughts and emotions all influence how your brain interprets the level of threat it is under. You are what you think. If you Google “common causes of shoulder pain” you will get a lot of information that uses words like rotator cuff tears, shoulder impingement, shoulder instability and wear and tear. This language is not really helpful as it does not explain what truly is going on at your shoulder. These words may contribute to your beliefs that you have a specific structure that is torn and needs to be repaired, and subconsciously you feel it needs to be protected so you stop moving it. Pain is decreased when we are confident that we are safe. A Physiotherapist will take the time to understand your beliefs, combined with a specific musculoskeletal evaluation to ensure that the best environment has been created for your success. Interestingly the strongest predictor for not succeeding with a shoulder rehabilitation program is the belief that you need surgery and won’t succeed in the program. If you don’t believe you will improve with exercise you won’t! There are a lot of myths on the internet and information that is factually wrong. This is partly because research is ever evolving and we continue to learn and the information has not been updated on the internet, and because not everyone has the same understanding of pain and dysfunction and your advice may be coming from an uninformed source.

Doing It Alone If you do it alone and rely on the internet for your health resource, you may not reach your full potential. Physiotherapists often hear clients saying that they have pain because they are getting older or because they have poor posture and feel that there is nothing that they can do about their shoulder that gets intermittently cranky. A study that was done courtesy of Strive Labs revealed that less than 10% of people who could benefit from seeing a Physiotherapist were actually seeing one. Yes, there are many other barriers to not reaching out to a Physiotherapist who could provide extremely more valuable care than the internet. A Physiotherapist will motivate and push you to reach your goals and potential. The internet does not know your goals or potential. The more you remain actively involved in your health the better. Actively researching your condition is especially beneficial if you have a trusted expert resource like a Physiotherapist to help guide you through the information, challenge your beliefs and motivate you to do the “right” things to reach your goals. We love it when you challenge us with the lots of questions from information that you have read on the internet. We will be happy to inform you that studies show that people who get Physiotherapy for a non-traumatic rotator cuff tear do just as well as those who have surgery. The bottom line is Physiotherapy has a beneficial effect in the treatment of rotator cuff tears and other musculoskeletal dysfunctions when it is part of a treatment program that has been specifically designed for you. So the next time you have shoulder pain, Google and learn more about our team of Physiotherapists. Written by: Kelly Barrie Registered Physiotherapist BHScPT, FCAMPT, CGIMS Resources: Pribicevic M. The Epidemiology of Shoulder Pain: A Narrative Review of the Literature. In Pain in Perspective 2012. Kukkonen. Bone Joint J. 2014 Jan;96-B(1):75-81.

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