Trigger Points and Shoulder Pain – Part II

originally posted on SportsRehabExpert.com

Joe Heiler PT

Shoulder pain is such a common diagnosis that we’ll see here at Elite Physical Therapy, and there are a number of structures that can be pain generators to the shoulder and arm. Last month I talked about trigger points in the posterior rotator cuff (Infraspinatous and Teres Minor) along with their common referral patterns. Another common shoulder muscle to find active trigger points is the supraspinatous. Active trigger points in this muscles can refer pain to the deltoid and down the lateral aspect of the arm.

Check out the typical trigger points and referral patterns below:

Supraspinatous Trigger Point Referral

Check out the video below for a demonstration of dry needling to the supraspinatous:

Case study:

Feel free to check out this case study but it was originally written for physical therapists and chiropractors. Ultimately the point is that a combination of dry needling and soft tissue mobilization, in addition to corrective exercises, can significantly decrease pain while improving range of motion and movement.

Current patient of mine presents with lateral arm pain of 3 months duration. No known cause of injury but diagnosed with tricep injury/tear.

Pre-Treatment

SFMA dysfunctional non-painful patterns:

  • all cervical patterns (mobility)
  • R shoulder medial rotation extension (mobility) – FN to the L
  • MS rotation R (motor control deficit) – FN to the L.

    SFMA dysfunctional painful patterns:

  • R shoulder lateral rotation flexion
  • MS extension (R UE pain)

    Special tests:

  • Hawkins + on the R
  • Passive shoulder IR 20 deg.

    Palpation:

  • Tenderness with palpation of both trigger point in the supraspinatous with referral of pain down the lateral upper extremity to the wrist (indicates that is the pain he gets into the upper arm)

    Treatment on Day 1 consisted of Functional Dry Needling to the supraspinatous (x2) with electrical stimulation followed by more superficial Graston technique to the R upper trap, supraspinatous, infraspinatous, and teres minor along with light strumming at the supraspinatous insertion. Corrective exercise included 3pt. thoracic rotation (UE positioned in internal rotation – hand behind the back) with manual assist to hold/relax work until pt. was able to control the full available range.

    Post-Treatment

    Functional Non-Painful patterns:

  • R shoulder medial rotation extension
  • MS rotation B

    SFMA dysfunctional non-painful patterns:

  • all cervical patterns (mobility)

    SFMA dysfunctional painful patterns :

  • R shoulder lateral rotation flexion
  • MS extension (R UE pain)

    ***both are still painful although intensity has decreased while motion has increased***

    Special tests:

  • Hawkins + on the R but much less intense
  • Passive shoulder IR 50 deg.