Shoulder impingement

A 35 year old piano salesman had suffered a nasty shoulder injury at work a year earlier. His shoulder “froze”, it was painful on movement and pain severely interrupted his sleep. Steroid injections and physiotherapy gave some temporary relief but had no effect on shoulder movement.

The diagnosis? Shoulder impingement syndrome.

When I saw him, he was due to have corrective surgery in 5 weeks – a last resort option.

This condition is very common and is thought to be caused by a pinching of one of the shoulder tendons between the top of the humerus (upper arm) and the part of the shoulder blade (acromion) that overlies this area. (See diagram).

Pain and limitation of movement are the prime symptoms of this condition, particularly when lifting or rotating the arm. This patient was unable to lift his arm higher than 60 degrees from the vertical and all other movements including rotation, were severely limited.

I had managed similar problems many times before, and the  audible, palpable crunching sound I detected on examination suggested that impingement might not be the problem. I have seen wheatgrass loosen up  stiffness in osteoarthritic joints by softening the tissues around the joint – often within 10 – 20 minutes. This suggests it is not necessarily roughened joint surfaces that prevent movement, but the soft tissue – muscles, tendons etc. around the joint that stiffen it.

I applied a little wheatgrass extract mostly over the tender areas and worked it in for a few minutes. About ten minutes later, the Piano Man’s shoulder was moving freely without pain, and the crunching had disappeared.  Needless to say, both patient and practice nurse were rather astonished.

The following day, the patient had enjoyed his first painless night’s sleep for a year, and his shoulder movements were perfectly normal. Understandably, he couldn’t see why he needed an operation. I suggested he ask his orthopedic surgeon to review his condition.

There are of course, numerous types of shoulder injury that will not respond to wheatgrass the way this patient’s did. But if there is a chance that wheatgrass MAY help recovery more quickly (from an injury), that it relaxes soft tissue stiffness and reduces inflammation, wouldn’t you try it before undergoing an operation?

I would.

Dr. Chris Reynolds.