View Full Version : Nooo...Shoulder

December 5th, 2005, 06:55 PM
I am feeling a pain in the shoulder. Yes yes, I know there are millions of threads like this floating around, but I have to ask.
How can I distinguish between a normal shoulder muscle sore and a shoulder injury? Are there circumstances in which the shoulder hurts but for completely normal reasons?
My shoulder is having a dull sore, not a sharp pain. I happened last night. I was swinging my arm around with no apparent reason, and doing backstroking motions when I suddenly felt a pain on the top portion of my deltoid. If I were to draw a circle around the pain, the circle would face out and forward. When my arms are over my head, there's NO pain, but when my arms reach about 45 to 30 degrees to my body, the pain starts. The pain is mainly when I'm moving my arm.
Right now, there's no pain anymore. I gave it a night and today, and currently there's no acute pain, but just a dull soreness much like an aching muscle. However, last night I sensed a bit of pain while moving in the 45 degree zone mentioned above, but when my arms were above my head or even above horizontal I couldn't feel a thing.
When the arm's hurting, after a bit of rest it felt like it had been charged up with lactic acid and had that kind of sore feeling (my entire arm). Then it disappeared. Right now I can't feel any pain while moving my arms, except that very mild soreness. Oh yea, I sense no obvious weakness in the arm or inability to sleep on it.
So...what's happening? Any ideas?
Thanks a lot.

December 5th, 2005, 07:45 PM
Your shoulder is annoyed at you it says here I go and go for you in that pool and now you have the audacity to swing me around outside the pool?

Seriously how do i tell the difference-I see if it sticks around or not. In your situation I would lay off for a day or two, ice (right away) and then gently stretch and do ROM exercises. Maybe you have tightened up in some area that needs work. Its porbably an early warning to be careful.

If it keeps hurting, hurts agian, hurts sharply, swells, heats, gets numb or shoots, I'd guess injury. Hard to say from out here!

Kevin in MD
December 6th, 2005, 09:32 AM
I don't know why you would be asking this here. Ask real professionals.

But since you asked :-) If my imagination is working right then you are having some impingement syndrome.

Should see a physical therapist soon, it can progress very rapidly to dropped shoulder if not seen about.

December 6th, 2005, 10:09 AM
Pain is not "normal." Could be tendinitis, in which case ice and an antiinflammatory agent (like Aleve) will help. However, you have to look for the cause. If it's impingement ("swimmer's shoulder"), treatment should include correcting faulty stroke mechanics and physical therapy.

December 8th, 2005, 06:26 PM
Well, I gave it another few days. It seemed to be under control, and last night I went for swimming. Had a moderate workout, didn't hurt at all during the workout except for a few very tiny twinges, and after the swimming I felt only a few twinges (barely hurt, just noticeable). This morning it hurt for about 3 minutes and the whole day went by without it hurting. Now it's almost gone.
I also went to the doctor today. The man pressed on where it hurt, pinched my frigin shoulder, and I could feel a tendony thing jumping around under his finger. He said that I had a small bicep tendon pain, and it should heal within 3 weeks. He suggested rest and some anti-inflammatory drugs, but he didn't seem too concerned. It didn't hurt that much and not at all when my arm was overhead, so that's probably why. He didn't say anything about not going swimming tho, and even though I told him that I swim. My dad doesn't seem too worried either. He says that he gets pains from soccer all the time. Ah well, I'm gonna just rest my shoulder a bit
I'm doing a 80 to 90% breaststroke workout. Breaststroke isn't hard on the shoulders is it?

December 8th, 2005, 07:08 PM
was the one stroke I was permitted to do after having surgery for impingement syndrome and for scar tissue that I created by going back to swimming too soon.

Since there is no overhand motion--the tendons don't rub against the acromion which is where the impingement comes from.

This might be the time to work on your various kicks for a few weeks and allow the shoulder to fully heal.

December 8th, 2005, 07:59 PM
Ah well. I pretty much don't do any other strokes other than breast. I do about 2 lengths of free followed by 2 lengths of back for warmup and may stick 2 lengths of fly somewhere in my workout if I feel that I need a break. But now, pure breaststroke workouts! Is sprint breaststroke okay?
And I'd better watch the knees.

Oh yea, is shoulder clicking and popping normal? They are like the sounds of a cracked knuckle. I occasionally get them in the shoulders, and knees, and wrists, and just about everywhere else. No pain associated with these. Are these normal? I've heard someone say that "you know you're a swimmer when one or both of your shoulders click when you put on a jacket" from the you know you're a swimmer thread. So, this isn't a problem is it (occasional clicking)? It got pretty loud once in the showers, the sound amplified by the walls. And I had a pretty loud one about 2 seconds ago.

Oh yea, can poor computer posture cause shoulder aches?

December 8th, 2005, 08:05 PM
well here's another opnion and its advice I don't follow enough. If its minor and goign to heal but is a tendon let it really rest until there is no pain at all. If you keep using it you may escalate it. I think when it already hurts there's some inflammation which makes the use worse. Let it go away for good instead of becoming a chronic irritation. Docs. don't always hear or understand us when we tell them what we do.

December 9th, 2005, 12:13 AM
Okay, now this stupid shoulder's getting annoying.
The pain is not severe. It's just noticeable, yet I'm not sure that I should be swimming through the pain. So, today, I spent about an hour in the pool with that stupid pain, and when I got out, the pain is gone. Now my shoulder feels completely normal.
This is what's so annoying. I can never tell when the pain will come. Its sometimes when I'm swimming, sometimes not. I don't think there is one during the night, and during the day it's random. When all the shoulder problems I've checked and researched on the internet says that the shoulder should feel pain when moving above 90 degrees elevation, my shoulder feels pain when moving BELOW, and only below 90 degrees elevation. How unorthodox.
Oh and can someone answer the questions in the above post? Thanks very much!

December 9th, 2005, 12:10 PM
Originally posted by Draconis
The pain is not severe. It's just noticeable, yet I'm not sure that I should be swimming through the pain.

From what I have heard it is never a good idea to swim through injury induced pain. Unfortunately people use the word pain to refer to many different things, there is lactic acid induced muscle pain which is normal, there is muscle and tendon tear pain, and there is impingment/joint pain. The latter two are injury induced pain and will be made worse by swimming through them.

In my own experience with shoulder pain I have found that all movements of my arms behind the plane of my body, not just overhead movements, lead to problems. The most common problem movement for me is a high elbow recovery in crawl done without sufficient body roll. With enough roll my arms need never move behind my back. Unlike many people I am more likely to have shoulder problems during freestyle than butterfly.

I also find that shoulder pain can either occur during swimming, which in my case is usually a result of bad technique, such as insufficient roll, or can occur at times seemingly unrelated to swimming.

Shoulder problems are often caused by muscle inbalances that result in the shoulder joint not being held in its proper position in the shoulder socket. I have found that if I work one set of muscles particularly hard those muscles may be too tired and weak to properly hold the shoulder in place resulting in pain in the period after swimming. I also have found that when one set of muscles gets stiff and sore it may shorten up and pull the shoulder out of its correct position. Right now, most of my shoulder problems occur out of the pool when I make certain movements. Also in my experience clicking in the shoulder is a sign the joint is not being held steadily in place and is a sign that all is not well. I find that too much aggressive stretching can cause problems as can jumping into arm swinging without starting with slow movements to slowly expand the range of motion.

Long sets of breast stroke pull can cause me shoulder problems so I don't think you can safely assume that breast stroke is completely safe.

Other people have had different experiences so your milage may vary. Good luck.

Kevin in MD
December 9th, 2005, 12:17 PM
Originally posted by Draconis
He said that I had a small bicep tendon pain, and it should heal within 3 weeks.

Yes, it wil heal with three weeks of rest, but then you'll siwm again and you'll have the same pain again. This is what doctors do.

For most of their patients, it works fine. Guy helps his kid move one weekend and strains his muscle. Sees doctor who tells him to lay off of it for two weeks and sure neough the guy is good to go.

Or someone falls andjams his shoulder on the ground as he braces himself. Same story.

You, on the other hand, swim every day. Importantly, it is the swimming motion that CAUSES the tendon irritation. You will get absolutely nowhere until you fix the motion in your shoulder that is causing the trouble. You can do that with appropriate strengthening and perhaps some stroke modifications.

Go to the USA swimming shoulder injury preventin page and DO the exercises listed there. http://www.usaswimming.org/USASWeb/ViewMiscArticle.aspx?TabId=445&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en-US&mid=700&ItemId=700

If it persists you can look at your stroke with an eye to injury prevention using the information at coaches iinformation service. http://cis.squirming.net/category/swimming/118/

Doing anything else is wishful thinking, "Boy I hope my shoulder gets better in two weeks even though I am doing absolutely nothing to fix it." Embark on a program to fix it and maintin it and you'll be good for the rest of your career.

December 9th, 2005, 01:03 PM
Originally posted by Kevin in MD
This is what doctors do.

A bit of a generalization, don't you think? You need to see an orthopedist who specializes in sports medicine (while I'm a physician, here I'm speaking from experience as a patient). As I posted above: "Could be tendinitis, in which case ice and an antiinflammatory agent (like Aleve) will help. However, you have to look for the cause. If it's impingement ("swimmer's shoulder"), treatment should include correcting faulty stroke mechanics and physical therapy." I agree that rest alone won't fix the problem.

December 9th, 2005, 02:08 PM
A little over a year ago I myself damaged my LH shoulder while doing ballistic arm swing type stretches. It is pretty much pain free now but it took a good 8-10 months to get to the point where I could go a day or two without thinking about it. Let me tell you what worked for me..
1) NSAID's are good and bad. They reduce swelling but the cause of the swelling is actually beneficial to the healing process. When I layed off of the drugs my recovery improved drastically.

2) Limited shoulder exercises. If I did them every day to fatigue my arms would be too tired to swim.

3) Breaststroke caused a lot of clicking in my shoulders so I avoided it as much as possible.

4) When swimming, stop immediately when you notice any pain. Never swim through the pain because it will only make things worse.

5) Use your arm. Keeping it immobilized when not in the pool causes problems such as adhesive capsulitis in bad cases. The more I used my arm, in a gentle manner, the better it felt.

I'll post more as I have time.

December 9th, 2005, 06:53 PM
Well, the pain first started when I was doing swinging-arm type stretches. It wasn't "ballistic", but a few swings and I felt the pain very suddenly.
People say that breaststroke is not hard on the shoulders. Is it? I'm mostly a breaststroker so I don't do a lot of free, back, or fly. I usually do a maximum of two lengths of free, back and fly in a workout and everything else breast. Is that very bad for the shoulders?
Stroke mechanics: Can a faulty breast pull damage shoulders? Because I don't do much free, back, or fly (VERY minimal amounts), I don't think its their stroke mechanics that's causing the problem. Anyways, like I said, I think I stretched my tendon too much during the arm swinging.
How long should I stay away from the pool for? Note that I do only breast iin a swimming workout in the pool. It's just I get really grouchy and grumpy if I'm away from the pool for too long.

What's annoying is that I can't seem to understand why everything I've researched about shoulder pain involves major pain when the arms move ABOVE the 90 degrees elevation when my arms only hurt when they are BELOW 90 degrees elevation (in fact, only when they're fairly close to the body, so during a breast pull out it's at the completion of the pull that it hurts).

Also, is shoulder clicking normal? (occasional ones). And can poor computer posture damage shoulders? Yes, it was after a few hours at the computer that I stood up and immediately went arm swinging, then the shoulder started to hurt.
Thanks a lot.

December 9th, 2005, 07:40 PM
you need someone knowledgable to look at your shoulder. I will digress for a moment, years ago in a far off place there was a man trekking in an area I was living in. He got acute upper abdominal pain with all the symprotms of appendicitis (quiet gut, hurts on release of pressure etc). At great expense he was bundled onto a yak then runshed to the city where they prepared im for an airlift to a hospital in another country. If I described his symptoms, the docs would all agree this was the right course of action. WHile waiting at the airport, the nurse deicded to lift his shirt and examine the patient's skin (out of curiosity) she found a large tick, whose venom was producing the other symptoms. Teh could have removed the tick in the field and treated him.

Before we airlift you off for surgery, you need someone to look at you who knows what to look for.

My experience is that a physical therapist or sports med doc can identify this best. I expect such a person to have me move my arm different ways against resistence. I also expect them to look at my arm (I once had a biceps tendonitis dx but the horrified pt found the "bulge was not a swollen bicep but the "head" of the shoulder displaced agianst the tendon). So go find someone to look. A PT might look wihtout an RX or you could call the original doc and ask for a pt RX. After that my own personal subjective finding is a swim coach can address the long-term solution in the water and the pt on dryland (unless it needs a surgeon). Your mileage will vary.