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Observations and Critical Warning Signs for Shoulder Pain

Sometimes shoulder pain is aggravated by movement. It is also not unusual to see a dramatic loss in the range of motion of the arm with or (more rarely) without pain.

The shoulder is an unusual joint in the human body.  It is not a hinge joint like the elbow or even a solid ball and socket like the hip.  The shoulder is like a flexible suspension bridge held in place by tendons and muscles with the bones connecting between the humerus of the upper arm and the shoulder blade (scapula) which loosely floats above the ribs of the upper back.

In my opinion, the nervous system is one of the primary things that holds this joint together.  Feedback loops in the nervous system keep us from tearing our shoulders apart by sending pain signals when we approach the limits of our normal range of motion.  When these feedback loops get out of balance we can experience pain or loss of range of motion.  This may be caused by strains or traumas but, can also often happen spontaneously or with normal activity.

The Chinese call this the 50 year old shoulder which implies that it can be very easily triggered when you reach a certain age. Western medical practitioners may diagnose a frozen shoulders with bursitis (inflammation of the bursa), rotator cuff (maybe a torn tendon), or adhesive capsulitis which seem to imply the need for ant-inflammatory drugs or surgery.  I often see dramatic changes in pain levels and range of motion with a single acupuncture or acupressure treatment. These changes happen much faster that tendon tears can heal, more rapidly than inflammation can subside, and more quickly than adhesive capsules can dissolve.

If you use Presto Acupressure to treat shoulder pain when it first begins you may only need a few treatments to resolve the problem.  If you have had the pain for a while frequent acupressure may help bring the feed back loops in your body back into balance and slowly reduce the pain. Presto Acupressure may also be useful to alleviate the pain if it suddenly flares up when it is aggravated.  If your shoulder pain keeps returning after weeks of Presto treatments or if your shoulder has been restricted for a long time and it does not respond to acupressure I recommend that you contact an acupuncturist to diagnose and treat your condition.

Shoulder pain may be a sign of a serious medical emergency. 

Shoulder pain can be a sign of angina (loss of blood flow to the heart) which can warn of a heart attack.  Contact health professional immediately if you experience shoulder pain with any of these associated symptoms: heart palpitations, numbness in the hands or mouth, nausea, and swelling in the ankles. Be especially watchful if generalized shoulder pain is triggered by anxiety, cold, exercise, or sexual activity.  Also be cautious if medical history includes high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, cigarette smoking, previous heart disease.


Risks of Using Over the Counter Drugs or Prescription Medications

Treating shoulder pain or any pain with prescription or over the counter medications can lead to numerous long term side effects including chronic headaches which have their own medical acronym: MOH (medication overuse headache).

Regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, which include: aspirin, ibuprofen (as found in Advil®), naproxen (Aleve®), and a long list of prescription NSAIDS (see below) often lead to life threatening gastrointestinal ulcers and/or bleeding. NSAIDs can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer.  Studies have also shown that they interfere with bone healing and may increase the rate of arthritic joint deterioration. NSAIDs may also damage the kidneys of elderly patients and are linked to an increased risk of renal (kidney) cell cancer.  A recent study found that males who are regular NSAID users are 38% more likely to have erectile dysfunction. The news is even worse for pregnant women because using NSAIDs during pregnancy can more than double (2.4 times) the risk of having a miscarriage. 
Commonly prescribed NSAIDS include: celecoxib (Celebrex®), diclofenac (Voltaren®), etodolac (Lodine®), fenoprefen (Nalfon®), indomethacin (Indocin®), ketoprofen (Orudis®, Oruvail®), ketoralac (Toradol®), oxaprozin (Daypro®), nabumetone (Relafen®), sulindac (Clinoril®), tolmetin (Tolectin®), and rofecoxib (Vioxx®).
Quotes, references, and links to articles which give further details about the risks of NSAIDs are listed below.
“Conservative calculations estimate that approximately 107,000 patients are hospitalized annually for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)-related gastrointestinal (GI) complications and at least 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur each year among arthritis patients alone.”  July 1998 issue of The American Journal of Medicine http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/deadly-nsaids
Several clinical studies have shown that the use of NSAID’s accelerates the rate of osteoarthritis and increases joint destruction.
Congestive Heart Failure:
Page J. MBBS(Hons) and Henry D. MBchB, “Consumption of NSAIDs and the Development of Congestive Heart Failure in Elderly Patients”, Archives of Internal Medicine, March 27, 2000, Vol. 160, pp. 777-784
NSAIDs may damage kidneys.
“Long-term daily use of ibuprofen was also associated with an increased risk of breast cancer [51% increased risk with a range between 17% to 95% increased risk], particularly of nonlocalized tumors (92% increased risk with a range between 24% to 297% increased risk).” 
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Use and Breast Cancer Risk by Stage and Hormone Receptor Status
Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 97, No. 11, 805-812, June 1, 2005  (PDF file)
“Use of NSAIDs and use of acetaminophen were significantly associated with increased risk of hypertension, but aspirin use was not. A substantial proportion of hypertension in the United States, and the associated morbidity and mortality, may be due to the use of these medications.”
Archives of Internal Medicine. October 28, 2002;162:2204-2208

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