Upper Extremity Pain and Injury
Are you dealing with shoulder, arm, elbow, or wrist pain or injury? Our emphasis on orthopedic manual therapy and research-based practice allows us to successfully treat upper extremity pain, so you can get back to all the activities you love.
You Shouldn’t Have to Live with Pain
Whether your pain started with a sudden injury or developed over time, living with it can be frustrating and exhausting. It can even make daily tasks like reaching behind your back or picking up your child feel impossible. If medical treatments have failed you in the past, you should know that our approach is different. The physical therapists at Life’s Work specialize in orthopedic manual physical therapy and are excellent at treating complex pain, sports injuries, and post-surgical issues. It’s why we’re able to succeed where many other practices don’t.
Our Approach to Upper Extremity Injury
Our bodies are complex, especially in areas like the shoulder. That’s why our therapists look deeper than surface-level symptoms to identify the underlying issues causing your pain. To do this, we begin with a thorough and precise physical assessment. Then we learn about your lifestyle and your goals to develop a personalized treatment plan specifically for you.
“As a patient at Life’s Work, I feel heard and well taken care of. I definitely have more mobility and strength, and feel empowered to continue on my wellness journey.”Sasha C.
Shoulder Pain and Injury
The shoulder is complicated. Many joints and muscles all need to work together for your shoulder to function. Even poor posture can cause chronic problems. We are experts at treating shoulder pain with a combination of:
- Therapeutic exercises to strengthen shoulder blade and shoulder muscles
- Manual therapy for the shoulders and upper thoracic spine
- Activity and posture changes including ergonomic correction
Rotator cuff injuries and tears
Your rotator cuff is the set of muscles and tendons that connect your arm to your shoulder. Research shows that conservative treatment, like physical therapy, is as effective as surgery for treating rotator cuff tears.
You may have inflamed connective tissues in your shoulder if you experience pain or a “catching” sensation when you reach overhead, behind your back, into the back seat of your car, or across your body.
Age-related shoulder problems
Arthritis and many other shoulder issues become more prevalent as we age. Symptoms may include pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion.
Collarbone and upper arm fractures are especially common injuries, but the shoulder blade can also fracture.
The first signs are often pain in the shoulder and decreased range of motion. Stiffness tends to increase over time. People with diabetes or who need to immobilize their shoulder (after surgery, for example) are at a higher risk for this condition.
Shoulder dislocation or instability
Some shoulder dislocations are visible. Swelling, pain, and inability to move your arm are common symptoms. Most people need rehabilitation after the initial dislocation has been fixed.
Tendonosis and tendonitis
Tendonitis means a tendon is inflamed, typically causing pain and swelling. It often results from injury. Tendonosis is the result of long-term or repeated tendon stress.
Some pain and stiffness is normal after surgery. Physical therapy can speed up your recovery and help you get moving again.
Your labrum is a cartilage disc in your shoulder. Sports injuries or falls can tear it, leading to aching, joint weakness, pain when reaching up, and popping or grinding sensations.
Acromioclavicular (AC) joint sprains
Your AC joint is between your collarbone and shoulder blade on the tip of your shoulder. People often get these sprains from a sports injury or a fall onto the shoulder or outstretched hand.
Elbow, Forearm and Wrist Injuries
Elbow, forearm, wrist, and hand pain can have a variety of causes. Culprits include sports injuries, falls, accidents, poorly designed desk setups, and more. Our therapists are experts at diagnosing and treating even the most complex types of injury.
“This is the single best healthcare experience I’ve had in Portland. My PT has a level of compassion I have honestly NEVER encountered with any healthcare professional.”Mikaela E.
Sprains and strains
If you hurt ligaments, muscles, or tendons in these areas, you might notice bruises, swelling, muscle spasms, and limited movement.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Caused by a nerve entrapment in your wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome can make your hands go numb, tingle, or feel weak.
Tendonitis and tendonosis
Painful tendon injuries are especially common in the wrists, hands, and thumbs.
If you’re recovering from surgery, you may be struggling with stiffness, soreness, and muscle weakness. Physical therapy can help.
The ulna (long forearm bone) can get injured when you fall and catch yourself with an outstretched hand. It often results in persistent elbow or wrist pain.
Repetitive wrist and arm movements stress the tissues connecting your forearm and elbow. Pain may radiate from the outside of the elbow to the forearm and wrist.
As we age, the joints in our elbows, wrists, thumbs, and hands are more likely to get inflamed. This usually causes pain and stiffness.
Nerve entrapments (pinched nerve)
If nerves become irritated in your elbow or between the muscles in your forearm, you might feel pain, muscle weakness, numbness, and tingling.
Golfer’s elbow causes pain on the inside of the elbow. It usually results from repeated wrist or finger movements, and causes stiff elbows and weak hands and wrists.
Fractures in this area are common, because we frequently use our arms and hands to catch ourselves when we fall, or to protect ourselves during an accident.