There are a number of conditions that can cause shoulder pain. The most common cause is a rotator cuff injury. A rotator cuff injury can be due to tendinitis, bursitis or tears. Those who have to reach overhead repeatedly usually incur a rotator cuff injury like painters and tennis players. Bursitis is caused by an inflammation of its fluid-filled sacs. Rotator cuff tears or strains can occur after a fall or car accident. Any type of shoulder injury will typically cause a lot of pain.
Other causes of shoulder pain include a pinched nerve, frozen shoulder or a dislocated shoulder. A pinched nerve is when another structure is impinging on a nerve. It’s quite painful. A frozen shoulder is where muscles, ligaments, and tendons stiffen and become difficult to move. Activities are generally limited. With a dislocated shoulder, the ball of the humerus comes out of the shoulder socket. And with age, the soft tissues around the shoulder can degenerate and cause pain. Most people will incur some type of shoulder pain in their lifetime.
Your physician will take a medical history and do a physical exam to determine the cause of your shoulder pain. An assessment of joint stability and range of motion will also be performed. An MRI or an X-ray may also be done to help with the diagnosis.
A physical therapist can help evaluate and treat a shoulder injury. The initial evaluation will be a thorough assessment of the nature of your pain. A goniometer may be used to measure shoulder motion, the range of motion and strength of the shoulder. Specials tests will also be done to determine which structure is causing the pain. For example, the Yergasons’s test is done to diagnose bicipital tendonitis, and the Empty Can test is a screening tool for injury to the shoulder’s tendons or muscles.
A physical therapist uses different treatments and modalities to treat shoulder conditions. Exercises generally consist of active shoulder motion, passive range of motion, using shoulder pulleys, shoulder scapular stabilization, and rotator cuff strengthening.
Other modalities of treatment include ultrasound, heat therapy, electrical stimulation, massage, joint mobilization and cold therapy. These treatment modalities are a perfect adjunct to exercise.
Ultrasound and electrical stimulation help decrease pain and improve mobility. With joint mobilization, the joints are moved in specific directions. It’s a gliding motion that is relaxing. The physical therapist also uses massage and kneads the injured tissues of the body to enhance healing.
All of these treatment modalities help decrease pain, reduce swelling, improve circulation and decrease muscle tension. Your physical therapists will also instruct you in home exercises to enhance recovery from a shoulder injury. With physical therapy, healing is faster, and you won’t have to rely so much on pain meds.
Do you have shoulder pain and don’t know why? Get the answers and treatment you need to get on the path to recovery. Our certified and skilled physical therapists have helped many others recover from a shoulder injury and can help you too.
Sprains and strains are among the most commonly experienced overuse injuries in the shoulder area. A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon is stretched too far or torn. A sprain occurs when a ligament is stretched too far or torn. Strains and sprains can result in an ongoing shoulder pain that may make it difficult to partake in exercise or even daily tasks. If the strain or sprain is minor, it can sometimes be iced at home and healed with rest. More severe strains and sprains will often require physical therapy treatments. Additional shoulder injuries include a torn cartilage, dislocation, tendinitis, frozen shoulder, and arthritis.
Your shoulders can accomplish several physical feats due to their structure – however, this also means that they are susceptible to an increased risk of injury because of their complexity. If something becomes damaged in the make-up of the shoulders, pain and discomfort can develop. This pain may range from a dull ache to shooting pains, depending on the severity of the condition. If you are experiencing severe pain, or pain lasting three months or longer, it could be indicative of a deeper issue.
If your shoulder is causing you discomfort, physical therapy is the best way to ensure the highest rate of relief. Our physical therapists are highly trained to help improve the flexibility and range of motion in your shoulder, in addition to relieving your pain and discomfort. This will be done through an individualized treatment plan designed specifically for you, and may include any combination of treatment methods as your physical therapist deems fit, including manual therapy, ice and heat therapies, electrical nerve stimulation, or ultrasound. Your physical therapist will also prescribe targeted exercises and stretches to help regain your optimal shoulder function.
Two of the biggest goals of physical therapy are:
1) to alleviate your pain and
2) to improve your function.
Your physical therapist will work with you to make sure that both of these are achieved throughout your physical therapy sessions. Physical therapy has been proven to manage the pain of several conditions, and in many cases, it has even been proven to eliminate shoulder pain altogether, thus making the need for harmful drugs or surgical intervention obsolete.