Why correct shoulder injury diagnosis matters


We often see patients who have been to their GP after experiencing shoulder pain. The most common diagnosis they’re given is shoulder bursitis, a rotator cuff tear or a frozen shoulder. With more acute pain, it could also be a shoulder dislocation, often caused from sport or another impact injury.


However, accurate diagnosis really is key. And that’s where a system like Careway, a recently introduced pilot programme from ACC, can be so beneficial. Refine Health was recently chosen as one of a limited number of Auckland physio clinics to be involved in the programme trial.


Careway is essentially an online portal that puts all client information in one place, meaning that all providers involved in a patient’s care can more efficiently and more transparently see information related to a case. Careway expedites the process of assessment, giving you quicker access to services like scanning and x-rays, rehabilitation services such as physios and access to services like a gym.


This streamlined approach also means that ideally care plans can be put in place faster. Careway is geared for more serious injuries; that’s not necessarily injuries requiring surgery, but injuries that tend to require input from multiple healthcare providers or that perhaps require longer rehabilitation. Shoulder injuries are a good example.


While it doesn’t change the high level of care you experience with us already, the pilot programme is testing whether faster diagnostics and care can help speed up the recovery process for patients.


And that fast track to getting rehab right is especially important for shoulder injuries to ensure that shoulder biomechanics get back to normal as soon as possible.


The shoulder is a complex joint structure. While it’s designed to be mobile, it’s this mobility that can also make it unstable (think of it like a golf ball sitting on a tee). It’s also an area where there is a reasonable amount of wear and tear, where everyday use causes tendons to weaken over time. However, it’s generally a more significant event that can cause an actual tear or injury.


While cortisone injections are often used as a stop-gap solution for pain and recovery, they don’t necessarily address the real issue. Likewise, even surgery doesn’t guarantee a good result without the right post-operative support.


That’s because with shoulder pain often comes poor biomechanics. Our body begins to alter the way it moves or carries itself in order to avoid or compensate for pain. Even after a cortisone injection or surgery, our body can be conditioned to moving in a way that the biomechanics are actually not supporting good long-term recovery of the injury.


Our objective as physiotherapists is to get those movement patterns back to normal – whether that’s after an injury, or after surgery – as soon as possible. What we love about the Careway programme so far, is that it’s reducing barriers for patients to get the care they need, and making a clearer pathway for care between providers.


The quicker we can get you in for treatment and the quicker you can be seen by a specialist or surgeon, then the quicker you can recover and get back to doing the things you love. If you’re eligible under the Careway programme, there is no additional surcharge for your appointment.


If you’re struggling with shoulder pain, or you’d like a second opinion about discomfort you’re experiencing, get in touch. Shoulder injuries need a good rehabilitation plan in place to ensure you don’t simply shift the issue through sub-par biomechanics. Get in touch to make an appointment – we have physios in both Newmarket and St Heliers who can help.


Leave a Reply