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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

Shoulder Pain Relief through Fascia Therapy

Sep 02, 2019 07:50PM ● By Janet Lindsay

by Eric Winder, DC 


Relieving shoulder pain requires a careful, thorough approach for this complicated joint. The shoulder moves more than any other joint in the human body, so both its movement and stability depend on over a dozen muscles. The successful treatment of many shoulder problems hinges on accurately finding which muscles are problematic and then applying treatments that will restore muscle function and balance. 

To illustrate the complexity of shoulder issues, let’s examine the cases of three recent patients of mine whom I will refer to as Pat, Larry and Sue. Pat could not raise her left arm to her head to style her own hair, and had been diagnosed with tendonitis. Larry could not reach behind himself or even into the back seat of his car. He was told that he had bursitis in his right shoulder. An MRI of Sue’s right shoulder exposed a small rotator cuff tear.  She was unable to lift a coffee mug or drive her car without intense pain. Each of these patients had different problems, but the roots of their pain could be traced back to their fascia, a fibrous connective tissue.    

Three Problems 

Pat’s tendonitis occurred because lifting her arm caused a tendon to be pinched. Examination showed that her latissimus dorsi muscle, which is the largest shoulder muscle, was contracted and overly tight whenever she lifter her arm.  This caused the joint to align incorrectly during motion which resulted in the pinch.   

Larry could not reach behind himself because of tension in the pectoral (chest) muscles and restriction of the fascia at the front of his shoulder joint. These issues were likely caused by a hard fall onto concrete two years prior which caused shoulder pain for several weeks. In Sue’s case, shoulder movement was weak and unstable due to uneven tension and weakness in the muscles around her shoulder blade. Sue’s pain and discomfort had developed gradually over several months, rather than making a sudden appearance. The instability and awkwardness in her shoulder movements caused a gradual degeneration that led to her rotator cuff tear.  

Solving the Problems 

The solutions to these different problems shared one aspect in common—the need to restore muscular balance and stability to the shoulder. With the utilization of therapy to release restriction in the fascia, stress was removed from the irritated tendons and connective tissue, allowing it to heal. This kind of fascia release in the shoulder often relieves pain even when there is a minor tear or other injury.  In the cases of Pat, Larry and Sue, all three found significant relief and ability to return to their daily activities. 

Pat required fascia treatment in the lower back area where the latissimus muscle is anchored. There were also restrictions in the fascia of the left side of her rib cage and her left biceps muscle. In addition to fascia release therapy, she also received a specific massage therapy to coincide with treatment to her lower back. After a few weeks of treatment, she was able to raise her left arm almost as high as the right with comfort and ease.   

In addition to treating Larry’s pectoral muscles and right shoulder joint, fascia restriction in his thoracic spine (mid-back) also needed to be released. Low-level laser therapy was also used to relieve pain and inflammation deep within the shoulder joint.  Over time, he gained a full range of motion. I did, however, warn him to stop reaching behind himself from the front seat of his car into the back, for sales samples and his briefcase. That position is unnatural and stressful to the shoulder and can cause injury, as he found out. 

Sue’s primary issue was in the serratus anterior muscle under the shoulder blade. She also had restricted fascia at the base of her neck and down her triceps. After a fascia release therapy, Sue learned to perform specific shoulder stretches and exercises to accelerate her healing and prevent re-injury. After the treatment was complete, Sue could drink her morning coffee and drive without complaint. She still had to avoid heavy lifting due to the rotator cuff tear, but otherwise, she had no problems with daily activities.    

The Common Thread 

No two shoulder problems are exactly the same. However, almost all issues with the shoulder can be improved by restoring muscular balance and stability to the joint. There are many important parts to a successful treatment plan for the shoulder which includes stretching, strengthening, and sometimes low-level laser or microcurrent therapy. The treatment that I find most critical is usually fascia therapy because restrictions in the fascia are often the main cause of muscle weakness, tension or imbalance.   

When fascia therapy is combined with other treatment methods to restore muscular balance and control of the shoulder joint, many types of shoulder pain can be significantly reduced or relieved entirely. This is even true when shoulder surgery has failed to resolve the shoulder pain or created new pain due to scar tissue.    

You are invited to attend an evening program on September 25, during which you can learn in-depth about fascia, why it is important and how to solve fascia problems when they create pain. Dr. Eric Winder will discuss case examples, provide a treatment demonstration and hold a Q&A session following the presentation. Attendees are invited to arrive at 6:45 p.m. for refreshments, and the program itself will take place from 7–8 p.m. This free event is located at 3131 S Tamiami Trail, #102, Sarasota. To RSVP, call 941-957-8390. Dr. Eric Winder has 21 years in practice, and focuses on relieving pain and restoring alignment and motion through fascia release therapies, without forceful manipulation. For more information, visit    

Natural Awakenings of Sarasota January 2020 Digital Edition


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