Physical Rehabilitation Medicine/Muscle injury


Hello, My question regards a upper arm injury I got several years ago. About 3 years ago I was walking out of the woods carrying tackle boxes with fishing poles and other gear. I was carrying this gear mostly with my right arm, at the time I had and still do a torn muscle in my left shoulder. That was the reason I didn't switch hands. It was during a rain storm so I didn't want to stop and rest. Even if my upper right arm (meaning between my elbow and shoulder) started hurting I kept on carrying my equipment. I think I rested once for a very short period.
After I got home my arm was hurting, at the time I took some ibupropon and rubbed some aspirin cream on it. It healed somewhat but I don't think it did totally.
Whenever I use it a lot it will hurt and I have to take some sort of anti inflammatory for it. I can't understand why it didn't heal ? I thought a pulled muscle healed in a few weeks at the most. Any ideas ?
Thank You.

HI Doug,
You have an interesting question.  It sounds like you overworked the right arm with the rainstorm carry.  I suspect the arm has healed but any strong use provokes a holding pattern in the muscles that hasn't fully gone away.

I suggest you find a resting position where your right arm can drape back alongside your torso and rest on something that enables the shoulder to drop back and the elbow to be straight.  Think of the position of a marching soldier when the arm has swung back behind.  Now reproduce that position of the shoulder lying on the couch or a bed.  Give the hand a place to rest on.  Create a very gentle sensation of barely a stretch or just the sensation of tightness.  Leave the arm there for 5-7 minutes.  Do this a few times and see if it helps.  Change the resting stretch if you have numbness or other nerve or circulatory signs while doing this.  It should be a mild sensation of elongation in the shoulder.


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Rachel Katz, PT, SEP


I have expertise working with recovery from car accidents, RSD/CRPS, neck and back pain and chronic pain. I can answer questions about pain that is not responding to expected patterns of recovery. I can address pain issues that are associated with traumatic events, and veteran associated pain issues. If you have had abuse or periods of significant stress in your life, your pain issues may be more complicated. I authored A Consumer Guide for Recovery from Car Accidents which discusses many aspects of injury recovery as all as specific detail about PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and protective involuntary muscle spasm. The link is: I can't answer questions regarding pain medications, or some specifics related to surgical interventions.


I have over 30 years experience as a Physical Therapy clinician. I taught swimming in Michigan and skiing in Aspen. I have experience in analyzing movement patterns and muscle control. I treat all areas of pain in the body including headaches, neck pain, back pain, shoulder injuries, plantar fasciitis, nerve compression, and knee pain. I have had personal experience with chronic pain, RSD, car accident injuries, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Muscle spasm and pain is a common component of injury and response to traumatic stress. Posture patterns and habits of how your body is often used can also contribute to pain. Restoration of movement and the senses that enable you to feel it are key. Rachel developed and implemented a stress reduction program for inmates within the Boulder County jail's drug and alcohol recovery program in 2005-2006 based on trauma healing principles from Dr. Peter Levine.

Rachel holds a BS in PT from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. She has over 30 years experience as a clinician. She has over 1500 hours of post graduate continuing education in many Manual Therapy and Exercise approaches. She completed her training in Somatic Experiencing under Dr. Peter Levine in 2000. This 3 year program trains therapists in treating traumatic stress conditions. Rachel has developed a body of work integrating her training and unique insights into complex pain issues. She is the developer and instructor for Sensory-Motor Manual Therapy, which is a State approved 2 day work shop for Massage Therapists through the Boulder College of Massage Therapy.

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