Shoulder pain can have many causes including rotator cuff tendon injuries, instability/dislocation, bursitis and arthritis.
When you visit your physiotherapist, your shoulder will be examined to determine whether the cause is a muscle/tendon, a ligament or a joint problem. The adjacent joints will also be assessed - your neck and your back and even your elbow as these areas may be contributing to your shoulder problem or your shoulder problem may even be due to referred pain from these areas.
Treatment can include:
- Hands-on treatment such as massage/soft tissue techniques
- Joint mobilisation and manipulation
- Mobilising/stretching exercises to improve movement
- Strengthening exercises to aid recovery and prevent recurrence
- Strapping if required
- Modalities to reduce pain and swelling including Electrotherapy, interferential , ultrasound and heat
Shoulder pain can affect many people of all ages. Sometimes we remember what we did to cause the pain, for example, a strain or a fall, but in many cases the pain comes on for no obvious reason.
Shoulder pain can arise from the glenohumeral joint – the “ball and socket joint” of the shoulder or from the sternoclavicular joint where the collar bone joins the sternum. It can, however, be a ‘referred pain” from the neck or the back, or even from the elbow or the wrist. The symptoms of a shoulder problem can range from a sore shoulder, decreased range of movement, shoulder stiffness, pain travelling into your neck or difficulty putting your hand behind your back.
So how can shoulder pain be fixed? The initial physiotherapy assessment of your shoulder pain will involve accurately diagnosing the source of your pain. The cause can then be addressed and treated. Hands-on physiotherapy, exercise programmes, and therapeutic massage are some of the features of shoulder pain management. At the same time strengthening of the rotator cuff, the important group of muscles which stabilise this complex joint, must be addressed. Mobilising the neck and thoracic spine to resolve problems in these areas may help.
Preventative remedies can also help. Avoiding repetitive movement can eliminate repetitive strain. Work and home ergonomics play an important role and sometimes suggestions as simple as moving the computer mouse closer to your body or changing the phone to the other side of the work space can accelerate the recovery path.