Sunday, 21 September 2014

Arthritis in the Shoulder


rthritis has a habit of showing up only after the party is over.


After 20 years of kicking, punching, throwing – and break falling, yes lots of break falling – do you think arthritis can show you a little respect? And how about folks who spend the same 20 years on an assembly line, or in construction, or as automobile mechanics, furnace installers, baggage handlers, landscapers…?

The list includes almost all of human activity.

When you’re worn, and you’re torn, and you’re shoulder is a-frittering away, that’s when arthritis looks at your torn shoulder cartilage and says: (like the Crocodile Hunter) “Hey, mate, ain’t she a beaut!”

Shoulder arthritis comes in as many forms as the pain itself. Here is a very brief sampling -   
OSTEOARTHRITIS - most common in the glenohumeral joint after cartilage has worn away.   Result: bone grinding against bone. The glenohumeral joint is located where your upper arm bone inserts into the shoulder socket. 

ROTATOR CUFF ARTHROPATHY - arthritis resulting from of a massive tear of the rotator cuff muscles. This doesn’t usually happen when you’re lying quietly in a hammock meditating on your ice tea. Instead, the muscles of your rotator cuff go through the shredder when you over-lift, over-throw, over-work, over-punch or over-grapple.

ARTHRITIS OF DISLOCATION - a result of shoulder dislocation,usually from a fall.

POSTTRAUMATIC ARTHRITIS  - more of the same pain (from shoulder bone fractures, dislocations, etc.)

AVASCULAR NECROSIS - occurs when the blood supply to bones is temporarily or permanently cut off resulting in bone deterioration and/or joint collapse. Commonly caused by trauma and dislocation.  Also can be a factor in steroid and alcohol abuse.

SYSTEMIC DISEASE - this includes conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

GENETIC FACTORS - a family history of arthritis may predispose you to arthritic conditions. 



Unfortunately, it’s when we think we’ve earned a rest (50 plus in age) that shoulder arthritis most often hits, especially if there is a history of prior injuries and/or forms of joint instability.

This is why it's vitally important to -

1.  Investigate - with the help of a medical professional, sports therapist, etc. - the reasons for the arthritis, and most importantly, how you can change your work or training regimen to prevent further damage. It does not mean that you have to leave the martial arts. Martial arts training is for life. Just implement some changes. Where you snapped your punch out hard and fast, go soft. You'll enjoy lots of speed and power, believe me.

Don't train quantity...train wisely.

2.  Add traditional Chinese medicine, acupressure and acupuncture, gentle stretching, gentle massage, energy building exercises to your repertoire. You may change the health of your shoulder join entirely.

"But I don't do Chi Kung or whatever, I'm into Karate!"

A pleasant news flash -ever Kata you practise is full of Chi Kung. You don't have to step outside the Dojo!


Pain during most activities - limited ROM (range of motion) - stiffness -swelling and/or tenderness - a “grinding” or “catching” sensation in the joint - weakness of the shoulder - pain may also be present during sleep.  As arthritis progresses, symptoms may vary.  Someone may have good days or bad days.  The weather also seems to play a part in arthritic pain. 


You can’t go around whispering: “Wanna know a secret - I’ve got arthritis in the shoulder” unless you’ve had a proper medical diagnosis.

Rest, and/or limited activity coupled with ice/heat treatments are also recommended.     Physiotherapy and massage are recommended -as long as the therapy doesn’t aggravate the condition. If possible, a structured program of stretching and strengthening exercises must be put in place to help retard joint deterioration and prevent muscular atrophy - but this has to be cleared first with your doctor.

And as I mentioned, continue to train…wisely. Use the arthritis as an excuse to investigate the deep energy work inside your own martial arts. It’s there, waiting to be discovered. 


thesnowtiger: Arthritis in the Hands
Stretches for Tight Shoulders - thesnowtiger

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