Injury: Shoulder impingement

A painful shoulder

A 35 year old piano salesman suffered a nasty shoulder injury at work a year earlier, then suddenly, his shoulder “froze”. Any kind of movement invoked severe pain. He was unable to sleep, and working at his job was 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". He was due to have corrective surgery within  a month.

What is "shoulder impingement/rotator cuff syndrome"?

A common injury thought to be caused by the pinching of shoulder tendons between the top of the humerus (upper arm) and the part of the shoulder blade (acromion) that overlies this area. (See diagram).

Rotator cuff or shoulder impingement syndrome
Rotator cuff or shoulder impingement syndrome

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

Wheatgrass heals impingement

On examination, the  audible, palpable crunching sound suggested that impingement might not be the cause of his problem. Having seen wheatgrass loosen up stiff osteoarthritic joints by softening or relaxing the tissues around the joint  (usually within 10 to 20 minutes), often it is the soft tissue - muscles, tendons etc. - around the joint that compromise movement and cause pain.

I applied a little wheatgrass extract over his shoulder, and about ten minutes later, the "Piano Man’s" shoulder moved freely without pain and the "crunching" had disappeared!.

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

Of course, not all shoulder injuries are going to respond the way this patient's did, but trialling wheatgrass first before intervening surgically, makes sense.

After all, it may lead to a better outcome.

Dr. Chris Reynolds.

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