By Frank Hubbell, DO
Illustrations by T.B.R. Walsh
It all happened so quickly, ugh, gravity. We so often forget how hard gravity is constantly pulling against us, keeping us firmly anchored to this planet. So, before I knew it, what had been a leisurely hike on a beautiful spring day went from a time of great joy to overwhelming pain in my right shoulder. I was crossing a shallow stream, stepping from stone-to-stone when my foot slipped on the wet, mossy surface, and down I went. In an instant I threw my right arm forward in an effort to control the fall. As my right hand impacted the ground, and I rolled onto my side to avoid most of the watery landing, I felt intense pain tear through my right shoulder, the type of pain that is nauseating.
Sitting in 6 inches of cool, clear, mountain water leaning forward, supporting my right elbow with my left hand, I tried to gently elevate the right arm in an effort to find a position of comfort. But to no avail – my shoulder was determined to make sure that I would never forget what a ten feels like on the pain scale.
Shoulder injuries are one of the most common orthopedic problems. There are approximately 7.5 million office visits in the USA per year for shoulder problems, of which around 4 million are for rotator cuff injuries. This high incidence of shoulder problems stems from the fact that the shoulder is the most susceptible joint in the body for injury, simply because shoulders have the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body.