Shoulder Case study

Shoulder Case Study

BB**, age 47 came to me because I had been working with his wife and son for a few months. He hadn’t had regular massage, only a few on vacations. He told me he had injured it throwing a football with his kids 10 months prior and now he still couldn’t throw a ball with any force or distance. His shoulder was bothering him so bad, it was starting to affect his job in construction. BB said his main goal was to still be able to out throw his teenage sons, so he could help them, train them and play football and basketball with them.

In the first session I noted a limited range of motion. He could not raise his right arm laterally above 80 degrees, the scapula (shoulder blade) was fixed and he could not place his arm behind his back. The muscles surrounding (commonly referred to as the rotator cuff muscles) had many trigger points (knots), adhesions (stuck tissue where its meant to glide) and the was hypertonic (more contracted and swollen than normal), mostly in the posterior deltoid and teres minor. BB was already seeing a chiropractor so we decided to start weekly 40 minute focused sessions.

We began to see improvement in the right shoulder after 4 weeks and could begin to work the neck, back and arm on the same side. Continued sessions began to yield improved range of motion, at the 3 month mark, BB could raise his arm laterally above 90 degrees. After 6 months we were able to place the arm behind the back, which allowed for more movement in the scapula and I could work on knots in the rhomboids and lower trapezius. After about 9 months of sessions BB reported that he could throw the ball again but was still not quite where he wished to be. After a few more weeks of working the arm and neck, and some work on the other (Left) shoulder for balance, BB told me he threw the ball and “I’m back, Baby”!!!

BB’s case took a fair amount of time, we had to overcome the initial 10 months of having left the injury untreated but in about the same time of focused work and a commitment to the treatment plan we were able to get the desired result. BB still continues weekly sessions a year later and the right shoulder has yet to be the main complaint again, even while working in a physically demanding profession.

 *With any acute (sudden) injury it is best to get treated sooner rather than later. As the body quickly begins to adapt and heal, even changing movement patterns to alleviate pain, thereby placing more strain on other muscle groups. Try to remember that everything is connected!

**names have been changed

As always if you have any questions about Massage Therapy, feel free to call our office at 703-858-2323 or email them to