Syracuse Area Health – Strasburger Orthopaedics

6 Tips for Avoiding Occupational Shoulder Pain

Are you noticing shoulder pain creeping up at the close of each day? It could be caused by work you do. An estimated 18% to 26% of adults are experiencing shoulder pain at any given time, and certain groups of workers are more likely to develop chronic shoulder pain issues due to occupational hazards. 

Repetitive strain injuries

Chronic shoulder pain is often referred to as repetitive strain injury (RSI) or cumulative trauma disorder. It can be caused by any job that requires prolonged, repetitive, or awkward movements. Simple actions such as the following can cause injury over time:

  • Using a computer mouse or keyboard
  • Swiping items at a checkout
  • Carrying or lifting heavy things
  • Controlling industrial machinery such as a forklift
  • Reaching overhead (like painters, construction workers, or window washers)
  • Using vibrating power tools
  • Driving a truck long distances or over bad terrain

Preventing occupational shoulder pain

To minimize neck and shoulder pain, consider taking the following steps:

Take frequent breaks

If your job forces you into repetitive motion, try to break things up as much as possible. Just taking a few minutes to stand up, stretch, and gently rotate your shoulders in their sockets can help. On your break consider doing a few exercises to limber the joint and help unlock frozen muscles.

Change your posture

Switching between sitting down or standing up if you do data entry or work as a cashier can help. It changes the angle of your hands and arms and can relieve pressure on the shoulder joint. When driving, change your seat position occasionally to subtly change your grip on the wheel.

Optimize your workplace

If your workstation is a desk, invest in an ergonomic chair, keyboard and mouse so you don’t develop shoulder strain and carpal tunnel. Make sure your forearms are straight and your spine is kept relaxed but not hunched. If you work in construction, organize your tools to minimize reaching

Wear a brace

A brace can help you protect your shoulder if you start having pain. By providing support to your joint, you can help prevent an injury from getting worse. Even if you can’t wear a brace at work, bracing after work can help hold your joint in a safe position.

Get help

Too big of a job for one person? Ask a coworker to give you a hand, and you can return the favor. Simply having two people lift a heavy box instead of one can reduce your risks of an occupational shoulder injury. 

Seek medical care

If you have pain in your shoulder that won’t go away or keeps you awake at night, it’s definitely time to seek a doctor’s opinion. Dr. Strasburger has various treatment modalities to use to help repair a damaged shoulder joint, relieve pain, and help you avoid reinjury. Do you believe your shoulder pain stems from your workplace? Contact Strasburger Orthopaedics today and ask for a consultation.

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