3 Common Causes of Shoulder Pain and How Physical Therapy Can Help Relieve Pain

January 10th, 2019

Imagine not being able to serve a tennis ball, swing a golf club, make a free throw or pass the football for the winning touchdown. You won't have to use much imagination to envision these scenarios if you're currently crippled by shoulder pain. Shoulder pain problems, such as rotator cuff injuries, frozen shoulder, and osteoarthritis of the shoulder joint, can place drastic limits on your life. Fortunately, physical therapy can provide non-surgical pain relief for shoulder problems, and you can enjoy this pain relief by calling our clinic today and enlisting the aid of our physical therapist.

Rotator Cuff Injuries, Frozen Shoulder and Osteoarthritis

The human shoulder is remarkably flexible, thanks to a complex arrangement of soft tissues, bones, cartilage and friction-reducing sacs known as “bursae.” But when any of the delicate components in your shoulder fails, the entire area may exhibit excruciating pain. Three causes of shoulder pain are especially commonplace:

  • Rotator Cuff Injuries – The rotator cuff is an arrangement of four muscles that gives the shoulder joint its ability to rotate in all directions. When these muscles, or the tendons that attach them to the bones, are subjected to the repetitive motions of tennis/golf/baseball swings, swimming strokes, etc., they can sustain micro-tears in the tissue. As this damage accumulates, inflammation and pain become more and more of a problem. It's also possible to experience a major tear that causes immediate, acute pain.
  • Frozen Shoulder – Have you had your arm in a sling for weeks following fracture repair, shoulder surgery or some other event that required extended immobilization? If so, the connective tissue in the shoulder may have thickened and stiffened, resulting in frozen shoulder. Frozen shoulder can occur in anyone, but diabetics are at elevated risk for this pain disorder.
  • Osteoarthritis – The cartilage that cushions joints will naturally deteriorate due to a lifetime of wear and tear, resulting in the aches, swelling and stiffness of osteoarthritis. But the extreme demands of athletic training, competitive sports or a previous injury can hasten this process. If you can't reach behind your back, osteoarthritis may be the reason.

Our Physical Therapist Can Restore Pain-Free Shoulder Function

Physical therapy can help relieve your pain and improve shoulder function, in many cases allowing you to avoid surgery. Our physical therapist will evaluate your current range of motion, pain patterns, medical records and lifestyle habits to determine the best physical therapy approach for your condition. Our physical therapist's recommendations and treatments may include exercises preceded by moist heat (which boosts circulation, eases inflammation and loosens tight muscles). Your physical therapy exercise program might include:

  • Pendulum stretches, cross-body reaches, fingertip walks and armpit stretches to relieve the stiffness of frozen shoulder
  • Doorway stretches, lawn mower pulls, reverse fly exercises (with light weights) and side-lying external rotation exercises (with light dumbbells) to restore strength to damaged rotator cuff components
  • A combination of shoulder stretches, shoulder-strengthening exercises and light aerobics (which enhances blood flow to the shoulder and other parts of the body) for osteoarthritis pain management
  • In addition to moist heat and exercises, our physical therapist may recommend massage therapy, ultrasound therapy and other non-invasive techniques to get that shoulder pain under control.

Schedule Shoulder Pain Relief From ProMotion Rehab and Sports Medicine

If your shoulder simply isn't letting you pursue the life you want, discover for yourself how physical therapy can help cast those limits aside. Contact ProMotion Rehab at one of our two locations in Lake City and Florence, SC to schedule an appointment today!