The shoulder complex is made up multiple joints which work together with tendons and muscles to help our arms to be very mobile and functional. Due to the complicated structure of the shoulder, small changes or abnormalities in this region can result in pain or range of motion limitations. You may have pain that is constant or pain this is only present with specific movements or activities. Common causes of shoulder pain include bursitis, tendonitis, impingement, instability, arthritis, fractures, or tears in the small muscles within the shoulder (known collectively as the “rotator cuff”).
How can physical therapy help?
First a physical therapist must determine the likely source of your pain. A comprehensive examination will be performed starting with a detailed discussion of your individual health history. You will also be questioned about your specific symptoms including type of pain, movements or activities that affect your pain, your normal daily activities and hobbies, as well as your goals for therapy. Your physical exam will include measurement of several different movements, testing of your strength, palpation of the involved area, and special tests to help us determine the cause of your pain with increased confidence. Finally, treatment will include instruction in avoidance of painful movements or postures, manual therapy and exercises to increase range of motion, strengthening activities, and functional training to help you get back to your life! Before the end of your therapy episode you will also learn strategies to reduce the risk of recurrence of your pain.