The shoulder is one of the most common sites of musculoskeletal pain. The shoulder’s ball and socket type joint allows great mobility but also creates some instability, increasing the likelihood of injury.
Painful shoulder conditions that limit movement are very common, and are caused by injuries affecting the shoulder joint, muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.
Causes of shoulder pain & common shoulder conditions
Shoulder pain may occur due to trauma, sporting activities, work related activities or falls. Pain in the shoulder may also be referred from other parts of the body, such as the neck. Common injuries to the shoulder include rotator cuff impingement, tears or tendinopathy, bursitis and dislocation. Other common shoulder conditions are frozen shoulder and arthritis.
How can physiotherapy help?
In order to determine the cause of your pain, a physiotherapist will conduct a full physical, orthopaedic and neurological examination of the shoulder, cervical and thoracic spine. You may be asked to perform shoulder range of motion and muscle strength tests. Where the pain is felt, both at rest and during movement of the shoulder, provides important clues as to the cause of the shoulder pain. It may also be necessary to undergo specialized diagnostic tests such as XRay, Ultrasound and/or MRI scans.
Physiotherapy for shoulder pain is aimed at reducing pain and restoring function and strength. A physiotherapist will take a detailed history to determine the cause of the pain and perform a physical assessment to determine its severity.
Treatment may include RICER, heat, electrotherapy or strapping. Establishing an appropriate exercise program is critical to restoring normal shoulder function.