How to Keep Your Shoulders and Elbows Healthy and Pain-Free

Shoulders and Elbows
Shoulders and Elbows

Ways to Prevent Pain and Joint Damage

Shoulders and elbows are involved in virtually every action we take when using our arms. The shoulder is a complex joint that affords people a wide range of motion for daily activities such as driving a car, operating a toothbrush, and using silverware. It’s easy to take the shoulder for granted because we use it so much, even for the tiniest of actions. Not to be outdone, the elbow is just as critical to our overall arm usage. These highly complex joints are a concert of bones that work with tendons and muscles to give us our strength and allow us to do anything from throwing a baseball to climbing a ladder. It’s hard to imagine a life where one or both of these joints is injured because it’s completely debilitating for most people. That’s why it’s so important to keep your body in good working order.

Keeping your shoulders and elbows pain-free can be an uphill battle, especially if you are in an older demographic and/or are engaging in physical activities such as tennis, pickleball, or anything that puts duress on these joints such as weightlifting. Shoulder and/or elbow pain is unfortunately very common, and can occur for any of the following reasons

·                 Overuse (common with exercise)

·                 Inflammation

·                 Dislocation

·                 Rotator cuff injury

·                 Fracture

·                 Arthritis

·                 Postural imbalance

·                 Poor posture

·                 Tendonitis

·                 Tendon injury

·                 Instability

·                 Bone spurs

·                 Bursitis

As you can see, there are a lot of conditions that can bring on pain or discomfort when it comes to the shoulders and elbows, and roughly half the list can be avoided through preventative measures. When it comes to keeping your shoulders and elbows healthy, the best route to take is by ensuring you never get injured in the first place. Use the following tips to increase your chances of remaining pain-free.

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Listen to Your Body

When it comes to engaging in physical activity, there is good hurt and bad hurt. Good hurt is when your muscles feel tired and you experience soreness from getting a workout. It’s especially common with those who are just getting back into physical activity after a long time of inactivity. Bad hurt is when you experience pain in the joints or bones specifically. That is an indicator that something is either rupturing or tearing, or you may have something like a rotator cuff injury. Even if your joint pain is on the mild side, the one thing that you don’t want to do is try to push through it and tough it out. That could actually make your injury much worse, so listen to your body, and cease all activity once you except start experiencing joint pain. The majority of overuse injuries happen because people try to push through when they should be resting.

Maintain Good Posture

The majority of office workers sit for eight hours a day in a chair, and if you’re using poor posture, you may be slowly doing damage to yourself that can add up to a big problem. Pain from poor posture can come on slowly, but once it ramps up, it’s both difficult to ignore and get rid of. Typically, the pain will start in your neck and back and then reverberate to the surrounding areas of your body, including your shoulders. To spare yourself the pain and agony, sit with correct posture by keeping your spine straight and your shoulders upright yet relaxed. Make sure both feet are planted firmly on the ground and that your arms are ergonomically correct. Don’t be afraid to consult a diagram on posture for more specifics.

Use Proper Technique

A lot of times when there are shoulder or elbow issues, it can be due to using improper technique. The most common example of this is tennis elbow, which is caused by a combination of repetitive motion and improper technique. Whether you’re playing tennis, handball, or baseball, you should learn the basics of that activity so that you don’t inadvertently hurt yourself by using incorrect motions. Whatever action you are engaging your elbow or shoulder in, it should feel fluid and natural.

At-Home Pain Relief Methods

The event that you are experiencing joint pain in your shoulders or elbows, there are plenty of things that you can do at home that can help you find relief. Aspirin, Tylenol, and other over-the-counter pain relief medications can help you find comfort when dealing with joint pain. You can also use heat and ice therapy. Most pharmacies sell heat and ice packs that you can place directly onto the joint. You may have to experiment with alternating between the two before you find the one that gives you the most relief. Finally, there are topical medications that you can place on your joint that feature a numbing agent, which are perfect for when you can’t hold a heat/ice pack to the area. 

Contact an Orthopedic Doctor About Shoulder and Elbow Pain

If you are dealing with chronic elbow or shoulder pain and at home treatment methods aren’t working, then it may be in your best interest to see an orthopedic doctor. The best way to find one in your area is by searching “orthopedic doctor near me”. That will give you a listing of all the orthopedic doctors in your direct vicinity. After getting your medical history, they can evaluate the area and get to the root cause of your problem. They may even take an x-ray or perform an MRI to see if there are any tears or fractures that need to be addressed. End your shoulder and elbow pain today and call your local orthopedic doctor.

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