Tag Archive for: physical therapy specialist

Will a Cortisone Shot Help Your Nagging Shoulder Pain?

Are Cortisone Shots the Best Option for Chronic Shoulder Pain?

Nagging shoulder pain can be extremely annoying.

But when it starts to interfere with things you love to do – you can’t help but wonder – is it time to get a cortisone shot? 

When you’ve got dull, nagging shoulder pain that just won’t go away, cortisone shots suddenly seem very attractive. They’re quick, easy, and seemingly harmless – right? Not so fast. Just because cortisone shots for shoulders are routine, popular, and often effective at getting rid of pain – it doesn’t mean they are the best or right thing to do.

What is a cortisone shot and how does it work?

Cortisone shots are typically administered to reduce localized inflammation inside a joint or tendon. In shoulders, it’s very common to use this procedure to reduce pain from arthritis, bursitis, rotator cuff tendonitis, and even frozen shoulders. When inflammation is confirmed to be the root source of your shoulder problem, and it’s not going away with medication, on its own, or with physical therapy – a cortisone shot may be the right course of action. But what if inflammation is not the root source of your problem? What if inflammation is actually a secondary symptom? This is where most of the confusion lies in the medical community. While it might not seem like a big deal (pain is pain, right?) – you put yourself at risk for irreversible damage to your joints and tendons if you keep getting cortisone shots when you don’t actually need them. 

So how do you know if a cortisone shot is best for your shoulder pain?

Step one is making sure you’ve correctly identified the root source of your shoulder pain. Is it a chemical source – where the inflammatory process to heal something injured within your shoulder has gone haywire? Or is it a mechanical source – meaning the source of your pain is due to poor movement habits and imbalances in your body.  The difference matters – and will determine whether or not a cortisone shot is, indeed, the best option for your chronic shoulder pain.  Let’s look at the differences between the two sources of pain to help you figure out when a cortisone shot is best for your shoulder pain – versus when you should hold off.

“Chemical pain”

Chemical pain is normal (until it isn’t) – and it’s the result of your body’s natural inflammatory response to injury. When your body is trying to heal from an acute injury or tissue damage, a complex chemical reaction occurs between your blood and other cells that involves the releasing of chemicals to “flush out” the injured area and start the healing process. A good example of this is when you fall and sprain something. The sprain causes tissue damage – so your body creates inflammation to heal it. Normally this process has a start and an end. As your pain subsides, so does this chemical process called inflammation. But sometimes this inflammatory process can get out of control for various reasons. And the accumulation of toxic chemicals sticks around (they don’t ever flush out or go away). The result is constant irritation to your nerve endings and surrounding tissues. You’ll experience constant, dull pain (even at rest) that will appear extremely sensitive to any and all movements. There will be no reliability as to what makes your shoulder feel better – or worse. As you’ll read below – the presentation of shoulder pain due to an underlying chemical cause behaves quite differently from shoulder pain due to a mechanical cause. When it’s chemical – a cortisone shot is often necessary – and the best option for your shoulder pain 

“Mechanical pain”

Mechanical pain is responsible for 80% of all shoulder pain. The hallmark sign of mechanical pain is that your pain will come and go based on certain activities, movements, or positions. It’s not constant and throbbing like with chemical pain. You’ll find, for example, that your shoulder pain eases with exercise, movement, and certain positions – while other times it seems to have a mind of its own and will hurt constantly. But typically, you’ll have some sense about things you can do to ease and/or aggravate your shoulder pain. And this is what makes mechanical pain so confusing  – because when you’ve aggravated it – your shoulder will feel inflamed. But the presentation is different from that I’ve just described above, namely, your pain comes and goes. This type of inflammation is a symptom – and not the root cause of your shoulder pain. A cortisone shot may work temporarily to abolish this type of shoulder pain, but it’s going to keep coming back until you address the root mechanical reason that is causing the shoulder inflammation. What you risk here is getting repeated cortisone shots in your shoulder because you think they are working – when they are only serving as bandaids. 

The verdict?

For chemical pain, a cortisone shot is likely the best option for getting rid of your shoulder pain. But for mechanical pain – it’s not. For shoulder pain that is mechanical, you fix it naturally, with specialized and corrective movement strategies. The tricky part here is distinguishing between primary inflammation that’s gone haywire versus secondary inflammation that is responding to activities, overdoing it, or simply the way you move. Don’t try to figure it out yourself – let a mechanical pain expert do that for you.

Are you local to Portsmouth, NH?

Consider speaking to one of my specialists for FREE by clicking HERE.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To get in touch, or reserve a seat in her upcoming free Masterclass for headaches, neck & shoulder pain – email [email protected] or call 603-380-7902


5 Ways Pilates can help Manage Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a “silent” disease of the bones that makes them weaker and far more susceptible to breaking.

The Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that approximately 10 million Americans suffer from this disease, and another 44 million have low bone density. Osteoporosis affects one in two women and one in four men. A woman’s risk of breaking a bone when she has osteoporosis is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. For men, they are more likely to break a bone than get prostate cancer. Hip fractures are common with osteoporosis, and of the nearly 300,000 folks who fall and break their hips, 25% end up in nursing homes and never get back to their previous function.

If these statistics don’t scare you, they should. But the good news is there are plenty of things you can do – starting right now – to help protect yourself from this condition. When you research osteoporosis, diet and exercise consistently come up as key prevention strategies. When it comes to exercise, you want to make sure it focuses on healthy resistance exercises, mobility, flexibility, and balance. 

Well… there happens to be one exercise system that accomplished all of this. It’s called Pilates.

Here are 5 Ways Pilates can help manage your Osteoporosis:

1. It’s a weight bearing exercise

One of the primary recommendations for preventing and managing osteoporosis is to engage in weight-bearing exercises. Well here’s the amazing thing about Pilates – the entire exercise system is based on bearing your own weight through various movements. Pilates gradually progresses you through postures of lying, kneeling, and standing – on both hands and feet – allowing you to bear weight through multiple planes and postures. This makes Pilates an excellent choice for those wanting to better manage their osteoporosis.

2. It improves muscle strength

You might be wondering… how does improving muscle strength help with bone strength? As your muscles become stronger, they pull harder on your bones, which helps improve the inherent strength of your bone. Plus, stronger muscles provide more support to your skeletal system as a whole, putting you at less risk of a fracture. Pilates in particular focuses on core strength – which is key for providing support to all your other muscles. And when you use the Pilates equipment to enhance your practice, you’ve got the resistance of springs putting special focus on all your tiny muscles, which helps strengthen areas of your body that might be inaccessible via traditional strength training methods.

3. It enhances flexibility and range of motion

It’s quite common for your joints to get stiffer and your flexibility to be impacted when you’ve got osteoporosis. You may think this is inconsequential – but stiffness and immobility can actually create more stress on your bones – which is what we’re trying to avoid. Pilates exercises emphasize the stretching and elongation of muscles, which inherently improves your range of motion. This will not only make you feel better – but makes doing everyday tasks a lot easier and they’ll feel less stressful on your body – which is important when you’re dealing with osteoporosis.

4. It encourages proper alignment and posture

Over time, osteoporosis can lead to unwanted changes in your spine, such as a stooped or kyphotic posture. Not only will these changes make it more difficult and uncomfortable to sit upright and move around, but they can make the bones (vertebrae) in these deformed areas of your spine more susceptible to damage. Pilates can help prevent and reverse these changes. Pilates emphasizes lengthened and proper spinal alignment and helps you to become more aware of your posture during the day. If you want to avoid (or even reverse) a slumped and kyphotic posture – with or without osteoporosis – Pilates can help.

5. It helps improve your balance and stability

Fall prevention is critical for those living with osteoporosis. And one of the best ways to prevent falls is to work on your balance. One might not think of Pilates as playing a key factor in this, however, Pilates is an exercise system that not only focuses on your core, but your feet as well. Everyone knows that a stronger core is going to make your whole body feel more stable. But when you’ve got feet that are more mobile and more in-tune with the ground – it dramatically improves your balance – making Pilates a safe and healthy way to not only improve your balance but decrease your risk of falling.

The best management of osteoporosis requires a multifaceted approach – and factors such as diet, nutrition, and exercise modifications must all be considered. Pilates is just one factor in the mix. But I like it because it hits on so many areas that are critical for the successful management of osteoporosis. If you’ve never tried Pilates before, I’d highly recommend giving it a whirl.

But be sure to get approval from your doctor first, and enlist the help of a movement specialist who understands how to work with someone suffering with osteoporosis.

Local to Portsmouth, NH? Consider speaking with one of my specialists by clicking HERE.

 Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media group. To get in touch, or enroll in her upcoming OsteoCore Strong Bones Program – visit her website www.cjphysicaltherapy.com or call 603-605-0402