Friday, April 20, 2018

Shoulder Support Tricks

This post is actually in response to a question I received about bracing my shoulder with a Theraband I had mentioned in my previous hip update post. I had recently discovered this as a trick to supporting shoulders. Desperation drives creativity and discovery and that is what happened in this case. I had been recommended to take a break from swimming and shoulder PT exercises to try to give my very painful and limiting left shoulder a rest, chance to calm down, more or less try to reset things. However, what actually happened was a massive flare of left shoulder, in turn neck became more painful, then right shoulder started to hurt again. After days of this, I woke in the night with left arm entirely numb, then the next morning neck sort of locked, not wanting to let me turn my head. That took heat, ice, heat, ice, repeatedly. I then started sleeping in a soft cervical collar that I have from previous injury to brace my neck at night. But, I could not figure out what to do for my shoulders. One suggestion from chiropractor was taking a Theraband, tying it in a loop, placing it behind my back when I went to bed, slipping my hands through so that the band held my arms down at my side, thus preventing me from moving and bringing them overhead at night. I am apparently a restless sleeper, sleep only my back, but often wake with arms overhead and elbows bent with acute angles that stretch ulnar nerve, creating cubital tunnel symptoms, but it is not cubital tunnel, just crazy EDS stuff. Anyway the Theraband worked! And, that gave me the idea to play around with it and see if I could figure out how to support my shoulder better. This is what I came up with. The band is essentially a figure 8. I can tie things behind my back, but this was already in a loop from using at night, so tried slipping on left arm up to shoulder, then with right hand giving one twist to the band behind my back and sliding right hand in and sliding band up to right shoulder. If too tight, it can pinch off circulation or nerves. With just a little stretch, it gives decent support! The band shown is one of my older latex-free bands. My physical therapist compared once and thought it was equivalent to a regular green Theraband. Thus, medium resistance. I usually wear it over a shirt, so it is not in direct contact with skin.

New fashion statement: Orange Theraband "brace" and blue kinesiology tape

I am trying to add shoulder exercise back in as recommended, but it is becoming very clear that the shoulder lacks actual strength, thus neck and back are compensating for it. (Atrophy easily seen in this previous post. The break from shoulder exercise has certainly not aided that issue.) The Theraband brace has supported very nicely for walks, PT exercises, daily tasks, etc. I rarely use it long at a time, but it helps give my neck a break. I also find kinesiology tape very helpful for supporting my shoulder, but also trying to help retrain neck and back to stop compensating. The above photo shows the tape on shoulder and up neck, but there is also a strip down my back on that side. Kinesiology tape is what provides huge aid with swimming, PT, living life. I would be taped all of the time if possible, but too long and it loses effect. I also have this little problem of adhesive sensitivity and can only stand so much before reactions get worse. My other shoulder support tricks include placing left hand in pocket of hooded sweatshirt--that serves sort of as a sling, and using an infinity scarf as a make-shift sling. Neither of these work as well, and scarf "sling" creates the elbow/ulnar nerve issue if done very long. But, they are welcome reprieve for my neck at times.

Scarf "sling"

Necessity is the mother of invention and desperate need certainly makes me more creative in finding solutions for problems.

Copyright © 2018 by Stef. All rights reserved.

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