Shouldering the burden

Doctors Alison Thorpe and Sonia Ranelli work on a patient experiencing shoulder pain.

A NIGGLE or an ache that comes and goes is part of daily life, but sometimes shoulder pains just seems to hang on.

It can start to affect the way people sleep, play sports, work, and even simple daily tasks like putting a shirt on or changing a lightbulb.

When it comes to dealing with the issue, there’s a bewildering array of treatments on offer, from mainstream medication, injection therapy and physiotherapy, to far, far out on the other end of the spectrum where faith healers hover.

To try and get a handle on what works and what doesn’t, a team of clinician researchers from the Perth Upper Limb Centre of Excellence and Curtin University have launched a study into the issue.

Doctors Alison Thorpe and Sonia Ranelli work at the Hollywood Specialist Centre in Nedlands and will be spearheading the research.

“During the initial phase of the research program, the team would like to engage people in the community that have experienced shoulder pain for three months or longer to participate in an online community conversation,” Dr Thorpe said.

“The conversation aims to explore, within a community group, the lived experience and understanding of shoulder pain, management choices and expectations of outcome.”

Dr Thorpe said shoulder pain often settled after a few days or weeks, but for more than half the people who sought treatment it lasted more than six months.

“For these people, chronic should pain becomes burdensome in daily life,” she said.

“The worry about pain that won’t go away, combined with conflicting advice about management that may prolong the experience of their pain the impact the pain has on their lives.”

To find out more about the research and to register for the conversations, head to

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