Back and shoulder pain is a common complaint due to our sedentary lifestyles and bad posture. Nearly 50% of us will suffer at some point in our lives -our experts are here to help you avoid it.

The Osteopath

Dr Guy Ashburner is a Cape Town-based osteopath

Painful shoulder conditions that limit movement are common, and are caused by injuries affecting the muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. As the shoulder has a high degree of flexibility, it’s less stable and more prone to injuries than other joints. As the nerves that supply the shoulder and arm originate from the neck and upper spine, conditions such as spinal dysfunction commonly contribute to pain in the shoulder. To determine the cause of your pain, the osteopath will conduct a full orthopedic and neurological examination of the shoulder, neck and upper back. When a diagnosis has been reached, the osteopath will discuss the treatment options with you. Although shoulder pain can be serious, the vast majority of injuries are not serious and can easily be helped.

The Physiotherapist

Kerryn Alcock runs a practice in Linden, Joburg

The shoulder is made up of three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade) and the humerus (upper arm bone). Shoulder pain is often related to occupation or sport, overuse or ‘wear and tear’ also results in a painful shoulder and this can come with age. To ensure a good prognosis, early treatment is essential in order to prevent stiffness, over-stretching of ligaments or tendons, weakness and further injury. Simple exercises can be done at home such as pendular exercises done while lying on your stomach with your arm off the bed or while standing, bending over slightly or leaning on a chair. Relax your arm and allow your shoulder to drop, then gently swing your arm back and forth. If it feels comfortable start to swing on small circles. This prevents stiffness in a painful shoulder by relaxing muscles and increasing movement safely.

The Naturopath

Dr Melissa Brown, School of Natural Medicine at the University of the Western Cape

Shoulder pain needs to be addressed at its origin, with careful evaluation as to what the  main causes might be. Two basic degrees of shoulder pain exist – acute and chronic. Some of the common causes include tendonitis, rotator cuff shoulder pain, bursitis and arthritis. These would need different treatments with the focus on the inflammatory levels within the shoulder, maintaining levels of movement, specific exercise as well as prevention of further discomfort. Eat whole foods rich in nutrients, which can assist in reducing the inflammation causing the pain in the shoulder. It’s also advisable to include antioxidant spices like tumeric and chilli, and increase the supplementation of broelain, omega 3, vitamin A and zinc. Acupuncture helps, as well as massage and other physical exercises such as yoga and pilates.