Shoulder injuries: a holistic approach

I have always had immense sympathy for anyone with a shoulder injury. These seem to be the slowest to heal, and the most debilitating in the meantime. Dislocations in particular wreak havoc on the body’s most inefficient joint – ten pounds (or more) of arm dangling from a tiny socket held in place by a handful of tiny, thin rubber bands. I never fully appreciated the intricate delicacy of my shoulders until fully dislocating my left shoulder two months ago…and it still hurts.

Strength vs. flexibility

The hip joint may be one of the strongest in our body, while the shoulder joint is definitely the most flexible. A healthy should has over 180 degrees of rotation in three planes of motion – front/back, side to side, and transverse. Most shoulder injuries result from overloading the leverage capacity of this delicate joint – relying totally on our shoulder muscles to lift heavy objects over our heads (like a suitcase in an overhead compartment, for example).

Dr. Steve Gangemi, in his article “How to crawl your way back to shoulder health” describes shoulder anatomy in detail:

“If you trace your collarbone (clavicle) to the outside toward your arm, you’re going to hit a little bump. This is the acromion of your scapula (shoulder blade). Now, if you come down and in a bit here at a 45-degree angle, you’ll find a dip. There you have what’s called your coracoid process. This coracoid process, along with the acromion, helps to stabilize your shoulder…”

Ouch…yeah, I’m really feeling my coracoid process today. It seems nearly impossible to allow such an important and fragile joint the time and space it needs to heal from a severe injury like dislocation. Especially when I’m chasing after a two year old and trying to run my own business (ps, to my devoted readers, this is why I haven’t been posting for a while! Typing with a shoulder injury is more painful than it looks…)!

But I wanted nothing to do with the heavy-duty pain killers they gave me at the ER. And for most people who suddenly find themselves with moderate shoulder injuries (severe enough to stretch the ligaments, and hopefully not requiring surgery), that’s pretty much all you get. “Take these, try and give it some rest.” Yeah, right. I was totally loopy on that stuff for a few days and then I flushed the rest down the toilet. “There has to be a better way.”

Arnica to the rescue!

Any event traumatic enough to result in a shoulder injury should be treated with Arnica right off the bat. Homeopathic Arnica 1M as needed will not only ease the pain but help to release the trauma in body and mind.

I was so grateful to have a stash of last years Arnica Salve that I made with the fresh, blooming Arnica harvested right here on our Homestead in the Colorado Rockies. A gentle massage over the coracoid process and right under the bottom edge of my scapula (where it hurts the most) right before bed helps me sleep at night.

Arnica grows in large patches on well-drained high-altitude mountain slopes and open fields

Arnica grows in large patches on well-drained high-altitude mountain slopes and open fields

Any OTC preparation with Arnica (only homeopathic doses are safe to take internally) will prove of immense benefit without the nasty side effects of prescription pain-killers like liver damage and dependency.

Admittedly, my injury was on the mend until a recent trip to Arches National Park in Utah where I (stupidly) packed my 2 year old and a few water bottles (adding up to 50 pounds) on my back for a three mile hike in 100+ degree weather. Now I’m paying for it, but finding better ways to cope by:

  • Asking for help!
  • Topical Arnica salves
  • Homeopathic Arnica for pain and trauma
  • Limited physical activity
  • Ice packs alternating with hot tubs and gentle massage

Other therapies that are helping me to 1. Re-align the shoulder joint for long-term shoulder health and 2. Release deep trauma from neighboring muscle groups in my neck and back and from the emotional/psychological impact of my shoulder injury:

  • Reiki – my Reiki therapist uses energetic vibrations, vocalizations/intonation, crystal energies and spiritual monograms to channel healing energy into the shoulder joint, inspiring a recovery that is faster and gentler.
  • Craniosacral Therapy – moves the cerebro-spinal fluid past blockages that hinder the bodies natural ability to heal itself. I also notice it opens the spaces between my cervical vertibrae allowing associated muscle groups to relax rather than being locked in permanent stress patterns.
  • Meditation techniques – taking deep breathes, visualizing a cooling blue-white ball of light surrounding my shoulder joint. I focus on the idea of floating – my arm is floating freely in the shoulder, the inner ligaments are whole and surrounded by white light, floating like a fishing net floats on top of the water, connected and functional yet completely supple and totally relaxed.

    Breathe deeply, imagine light surrounding the shoulder joint inside and out

    Breathe deeply, imagine light surrounding the shoulder joint inside and out


One Comment on “Shoulder injuries: a holistic approach

  1. Pingback: Dislocated shoulder? That’s a tough row to hoe… | the holistic homestead

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