The shoulder is an entirely separate joint and unrelated to anything going on in the low back right? Well, I personally do not believe that. As a physical therapist treating body aches and pains for for almost 20 years I have found there to be a significant relationship between shoulder pain and back pain. The shoulder may seem far removed from the low back but give me a few minutes to explain the relationship.
When you are having problems with your back there is a muscle that attaches from the ribcage pelvis to the ribcage and goes right over the kidney areas called the quadratus lumborum. It typically gets very tight with low back pain and it pulls on the ribcage. This can affect the shoulder because all of the muscles that control the shoulder attach on the ribcage.
Tightness in the quadratus lumborum can contribute to issues in the shoulder; however, there is an even more significant muscle attachment that will definitely affect shoulder motion and pain. There is muscle that spans a large portion of the back and it works to stabilize the shoulder joint. This muscle is called the latissimus dorsi and it’s base attachment is down at the sacroiliac joint.
When the sacroiliac joint is not synchronizing properly it affects the muscles that attach in that area one of which is the latissimus dorsi. It will cause this muscle to misfire and since it is the latissimus that stabilizes the shoulder it allows the shoulder joint to pinch the rotator cuff muscles causing pain. Many times a strained rotator cuff has a root cause coming from a misfiring latissimus which is caused from dysfunction at the sacroiliac joint.
So what exactly is the sacroiliac joint? The sacroiliac joint is a joint in your pelvis and there is some movement that occurs at this joint which helps with the coordination of all the muscles that attach to the pelvis. The sacroiliac joint consists of 3 bones – an ilium on each side and the sacrum in the middle.
This joint is a root cause of most low back pain. If you want to know more about the sacroiliac joint and how you can get it to coordinate properly so that the muscles that attach in the area can also work properly then check out my book Free My Back. In this book I discuss 7 steps to resolving chronic back pain and one of those steps includes a technique to retrain the sacroiliac joint to move properly. Click here for access to the downloadable E-Book version for free (for a limited time).