Shoulder impingement

A painful shoulder

A 35 year old piano salesman suffered a nasty shoulder injury at work a year earlier, then his shoulder “froze”. Any kind of movement invoked pain so he was unable to sleep, and working was very difficult. Steroid injections and physiotherapy provided some temporary relief but had no effect on improving shoulder movement.

His problem had been diagnosed as “shoulder impingement syndrome”, and he was due to have corrective surgery in 5 weeks.

What is “shoulder impingement/rotator cuff syndrome”?

It is a common problem thought to be caused by the 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).

wheatgrass relieves rotator cuff pain
Rotator cuff or shoulder impingement syndrome

The main symptoms are pain and limitation of movement, particularly when lifting or rotating the arm. This particular patient was unable to lift his arm higher than 60 degrees from the vertical and pain limited all other movements including rotation.

How to treat shoulder impingement

On examination, the  audible, palpable crunching sound suggested that impingement might not be the problem because I have seen wheatgrass loosen up stiff osteoarthritic joints by softening or relaxing the tissues around the joint – often within 10 to 20 minutes. So, it is not necessarily roughened joint surfaces but soft tissue – muscles, tendons etc. around the joint that compromise movement and cause pain.

I applied a little wheatgrass extract over the shoulder, and about ten minutes later, the Piano Man’s shoulder moved freely without pain and the “crunching” had disappeared!.  Not surprisingly, the patient and practice nurse were both very surprised.

The next day, the patient had enjoyed his first painless night’s sleep for a year and his shoulder movements were now normal. Understandably, he couldn’t see why he needed an operation, so I suggested he ask his orthopedic surgeon for a review. For some unexplained reason, the operation went ahead.

Of course there are various types of shoulder injury that will not respond to wheatgrass the way this patient’s did, but if there is a chance that wheatgrass might help by relaxing soft tissue stiffness and reducing pain and inflammation, it’s worth a try.

You might avoid an operation.

Dr. Chris Reynolds.