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How Can Physiotherapy Reduce Your Shoulder Pain?

By Dr. Rohit Mehta (PT) in Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Medicine

Jun 15 , 2017 | 4 min read

“Just a shoulder Pain”?

Many of us at some point have issues with shoulder pain because it limits our work and prevents us from enjoying our daily activities and sports. So what can we do about it? How can physiotherapy help us to get better? What causes the shoulder pain in the first place?

What people don’t know is that shoulder pain can be as minimal as a quick intermittent pain, often described as a sharp catch, but can progress to a more constant, dull ache down the arm. Problems in the shoulder can occur with day to day wear and tear, overuse, or an isolated injury. These pains can be easily treated with physiotherapy where an accurate diagnosis will be stated and the appropriate treatment will be implemented. Why go through your days with an irritating pain when physiotherapy can get you back to your healthy lifestyle?

What is the reason of your shoulder pain?

Dr. Rohit Mehta says, Shoulder pain is the third most common musculoskeletal complaint registered according to the World Health Organisation and within our lifetime it has been found to affect up to 30% of us. However, in those of us who are physically active or participate in sports, numbers can increase to a 66.7% occurrence rate. Further research has recently pointed to the fact that 10% of all athletic injuries are related to the shoulder. A Physiotherapist addresses a wide range of shoulder issues and conditions including frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis), shoulder tendonitis, shoulder bursitis, shoulder impingement, and rotator cuff or shoulder tendon tears. Physiotherapy assessment will allow your physiotherapist to pinpoint the source of your shoulder pain. You might be suffering because of:

  • Weakness of the rotatorcuff and shoulder muscles
  • Damage to the bones and cartilage, which can be caused by arthritis
  • Weakness of the shoulder blade muscles, a stiff shoulder joint
  • Imbalances between shoulder muscle groups that results in poor arm and shoulder blade movement
  • Poor posture, tension in the muscles between the neck and shoulder (common in people with poor upper back or neck posture, often linked to their work
  • Trauma, such as a fall, involving the arm

How Physiotherapist will assess your Shoulder Pain!

Your way to better Health will begin with a physiotherapy assessment. This assessment will begin with a general observation from all angles, which allows the physiotherapist to observe your shoulder, shoulder blade, or scapula, positioning. You are then asked to perform active movements where the physiotherapist will assess movements along the shoulder’s three planes and any pain that results in a decrease in motion on these planes. If there are no range issues, shoulder strength is tested using the same movements used to observe the shoulder’s motion but with slight resistance. Finally, joint glide testing is done where the physiotherapist will do exercises to measure how well the bones making up the joint move relative to each other as stiffness is common. Upon the completion of your assessment, there will be a diagnosis and the physiotherapist will create a treatment plan for your condition.

How can a physio help?

Shoulder Impingements are a complex set of conditions which require management based not on a set of standardised exercises, but an individual tailored management approach. Using a comprehensive approach utilising strength work, manual therapy, taping, theraband workout and soft tissue release, physiotherapists are well placed to help in the recovery from this issue.

We can,

  • Guide you on the most appropriate exercises for your issue and provide other helpful treatments like manual therapy, soft tissue releases and Strengthening exercises
  • Help you to understand why you have shoulder pain, what factors have most likely caused your pain and how to modify your activity to improve your pain and recovery.
  • The initial stages of rehabilitation/treatment will look at pain reduction and some early strengthening to build a stable joint strength and base for the shoulder to move more efficiently. This allows a graded return back into more normal activities.

The later phases of rehabilitation and treatment will look to include more advanced and comprehensive strengthening, power, and plyometric work, as well as key continuous management of the rotator cuff and shoulder blade stabilising muscles which form the foundations of shoulder movement.

What we expect from you at home!

Your home exercise program is very important as well. Often, people have shoulder pain because their shoulder is not sitting in proper alignment, or not moving properly because the surrounding muscles are not properly balanced. An At home exercise program for the shoulder often includes strengthening and stretching exercises to target these imbalances. At home exercises first, focus on restoring the full range of the shoulder. Once the full range is reached, the exercise plan will change to focus on gaining strength. Depending on your typical activities, functional exercises to restore original function are added. For example, a throwing athlete would work on throwing proper form, keeping in mind all the previous exercises they have already mastered.

Make you ready for the sports!

Prevention is a very important part of any treatment process as the end goal is to make sure that the injury does not occur again. Keeping your shoulder joint mobile and strong will not only help the initial injury heal but also set you up for success in the future. The Shoulder Injury Prevention program focuses on reducing the risk of shoulder injuries and assists the patient in maintaining range of motion, strength, coordination, and neuromuscular control. The home program includes active warm-ups along with strength and conditioning work and sport-specific drills (if applicable).