Are you feeling a twinge of pain in your left shoulder when you try to grab something off a top shelf or raise your arm to wave at your neighbor? Many people just use the term “shoulder pain” for any ache in their shoulder, but it’s sometimes important to note if it’s one particular shoulder over the other.
Shoulder pain is one of the most common types of pain for people to experience. At any given time, up to 26% of the world’s adult population is feeling shoulder pain. And while it may seem comforting to know that so many other people are going through the same type of pain that you are, left shoulder pain shouldn’t always be brushed off.
It’s important to remember that pain in the left shoulder is much more likely for people who are left-handed or play sports where they use their left arm to do actions such as throw or catch a ball. While only 10% of people around the world are left-handed, many professional sports have a large number of left-handed players. For instance, 30% of Major League Baseball pitchers are left-handed.
Read on to learn about potential reasons why you could be having pain specifically in your left shoulder, as well as how physical therapy can help.
5 reasons someone might develop pain in their left shoulder
Left shoulder pain can stem from a wide variety of reasons. In some cases, you might have just bumped into the door frame a bit too hard, giving your shoulder a mild bruise. But in other cases, you could have sustained an injury that needs to be treated to prevent further damage to the joint.
Here are five potential reasons for left shoulder pain:
- Sleeping on your side — Left shoulder pain can affect people who favor sleeping on their left side as opposed to another position. By putting your entire upper body’s weight onto your shoulder as you catch some z’s during the night, you’re putting that weight on the joint, which can result in straining the muscle surrounding it.
- Heart attack — One of the most concerning causes of left shoulder pain is a heart attack, or a myocardial infarction. Even though it can cause shooting pains down either arm, the pain is much more common on the left side. If you or someone you’re with is experiencing chest pains along with sudden left shoulder pain, immediately dial 911.
- Shoulder separation — If you have a tear in the joint that holds together the collarbone and left shoulder blade, called the acromioclavicular joint, that means you have a separated shoulder. A separated shoulder is often caused by a car accident or sustaining a hard blow while playing sports. It can cause the shoulder to look deformed and swollen.
- Rotator cuff tear — There’s a group of tendons and muscles in your shoulder called the rotator cuff, and it holds your arm in place while also allowing you to raise it. A rotator cuff tear in your left shoulder can occur due to excessive use over time, making it common for athletes who repeatedly throw with their left arm, such as baseball or football players.
- Arthritis — Joint inflammation can make a home in nearly any part of your body. And since your shoulder is one of the largest joints in the body, it’s a common place to experience arthritis pain. In addition to left shoulder pain, arthritis can cause stiffness and clicking noises during movement.
How physical therapy can help those with shoulder pain
Physical therapy is one of the best treatment options for left shoulder pain. Not only can your physical therapist use hands-on techniques to help alleviate the pain, but they can also increase your left shoulder’s strength, flexibility and range of motion.
Hands-on techniques are one of the pillars of physical therapy. By using their hands for methods like joint mobilization and gentle joint stretching, your therapist can release the tension in the soft tissue surrounding the shoulder joint. They can also stretch the shoulder muscles to relieve pressure on the joint and increase your range of motion.
Exercises are another essential physical therapy treatment for left shoulder pain. It’s important to learn safe and effective exercises that will strengthen your shoulder muscles and increase their flexibility. These exercises will reduce the risk of future injury or left shoulder pain.
Lattimore PT can help with your left shoulder pain
Having limited mobility of your arm due to shoulder pain can interfere with your day-to-day responsibilities. If you’re ready to treat your left shoulder pain and restore your range of motion, it’s time to give us a call.
Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.