Upper Limb Injuries and Conditions

The upper limbs comprise of your hands, arms and shoulders. These three main body parts are used constantly in our everyday lives for all manner of things ranging from simple tasks from lifting a pencil or keeping you balanced as you walk/run.

Due to their versatility, the upper limbs of the body experience much wear and tear on a near constant basis. This is especially true in sport and as such there are complaints named after the relative sports themselves (Tennis Elbow, Swimmers Shoulder etc.). This can result in injuries and conditions that the Chartered Physiotherapists at PhysioCare can treat to help you get and feel better.

Shoulder Injuries
Rotator Cuff Injury
Causes of a rotator cuff injury include lifting, falling, repetitive activities, overhead activities, throwing and catching a ball, poor posture and degenerative changes to name but a few. They are quite commonly seen in swimmers and tennis/badminton players. A patient with a rotator cuff injury usually presents with pain around their shoulder joint and pain when attempting specific tasks such as pulling and lifting. They will also show weakness and a decrease in movement of the shoulder joint such as reaching above the head or behind the back. Night pain is also a common symptom. At PhysioCare, your Chartered Physiotherapist will devise a rehabilitation program to improve the flexibility and strength of your shoulder joint to thus enable it to return to previous lifestyle and sporting activities. Your physiotherapist will advise you on what activities to avoid and what exercise and activity is suitable for you to maintain your cardiovascular fitness levels while your shoulder is healing. They will also advise you when it is safe to return to sport and work.

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Swimmer’s Shoulder
Research has shown that that up to 70% of competitive swimmers will experience a problem with their shoulder at some point in their careers. This is not surprising when you consider a competitive swimmer may swim up to 10km per day and easily perform up to one million strokes per year. This, combined with the fact that the shoulder complex has sacrificed stability for mobility, makes it that it is not surprising that overuse syndromes and other biomechanical abnormalities are so common in the shoulder. Swimmer’s shoulder can simply occur from the repeated action of swimming. This repetitive strain is a constant wear and tear of the shoulder whilst in the water. If this is coupled with incomplete or incorrect stretching before and after exercise, the problem is even more likely to occur. At PhysioCare we focus on quality patient care and outcomes and so when treating an injury such as swimmer’s shoulder, we know to test your range of movement before we tailor a treatment plan to see what you are capable of withstanding and completing. When we eventually help you to get and feel better, we can discuss working with our personal trainers in our private rehabilitation gyms for some sessions to strengthen and rebuild the affected shoulder if necessary. Swimmers shoulder is not an uncommon problem and should be treated as soon as it flares up to get you back in the water as soon as possible.

Arm Injuries
Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow
Tennis elbow is very similar to golfer’s elbow in that both conditions occur from repetitive arm movement with a particular focus on the elbow. Tendons in the elbow (tough bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones) are the most frequent area of injury within the elbow as they become strained and damaged over time. Repetitive wrist activities in sports, incorrect sporting technique or equipment, DIY, incorrect position whilst using a computer/laptop or lifting weights and also sudden trauma are all potential causes of pain felt around the elbow joint. These can individually all lead to inflammation, pain, localised swelling and difficulty using the wrist and/or forearm. This is known as tendonitis/tendinopathy and may well lead to scar tissue formation. As we age, our tendons become weaker and are more likely to become a problem than when we were younger. While obviously your elbow in this case is the source of pain and discomfort, for a sports injury such as tennis or golfer’s elbow we make sure to cover all bases and areas that are involved in the athletic movements carried out. With this then, a clear and accurate diagnosis is made based on the subject’s history, a specific examination locally, clinical tests and the description of pain and its behaviour. The cervical spine or neck area and the shoulder need to be ruled out as sources of elbow pain also. A clear and accurate diagnosis is made based on the subject’s history, a specific examination is conducted and the type of pain and it’s behaviour is documented.

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If you are suffering from pain or discomfort in your upper limbs, we recommend that you call us on 015310007 for more information and to make an appointment to see a Chartered Physiotherapist to help you get and feel better. We have early morning, late evening and weekend appointments available to work around your schedule. You can also visit physio.ie for more information on your specific injury or condition.