We never really think about how much we use our shoulders in daily life until we experience shoulder pain. Your day is probably filled with reaching, lifting, stretching, picking things up and other activities that involve your shoulders. As a result, shoulder pain can reduce your quality of life in a big way. Almost every type of shoulder pain can be alleviated and treated with physical therapy. If you’re living with severe shoulder pain, don’t hesitate to give us a call and schedule a consultation with a physical therapist at Catalyst PT.
What is Shoulder Pain?
“Shoulder pain” is really just a generic term for something that makes your shoulder area hurt. The shoulder is a complicated ball and socket joint that includes your collarbone (clavicle), your upper arm bone (humerus) and the shoulder blade itself (scapula). The shoulder has ligaments and muscles attached to it from your back, chest, and arm. An injury or debilitating condition to any of those attachments, bones, ligaments or muscles can lead to “shoulder pain.”
The only question is, how serious is the pain? Some types of shoulder pain are so severe that they can completely restrict your movement — for months at a time. If it is an ongoing pain that doesn’t seem to be getting better, you should seriously consider physical therapy for pain relief and to help you recover.
Causes of Shoulder Pain
Here’s a closer look at the different causes and types of shoulder pain:
- Fracture: A shoulder fracture usually happens as a result of a sudden trauma, such as a car accident or a collision during a sporting event. Any or all three of the bones that meet at the shoulder joint can be impacted (collarbone, scapula, and humerus). The most common cause of a shoulder fracture is simply falling and catching yourself on one hand — like football players do every single day!
- Rotator Cuff Tendonitis: The four main muscles that allow you to move your shoulder make up the rotator cuff. These muscles help hold the ball of the humerus in your shoulder socket while you move your arm. The tendons from these muscles attach to each other underneath the shoulder blade. If one of those attachments gets pinched due to an injury the result is tendonitis (and sometimes very intense shoulder pain).
- Bursitis: We all have fluid-filled sacs in our bodies that help certain structures glide over each other. These sacs are called bursa, and one of them sits between the shoulder blade and the arm bone. If the bursa gets pinched, it leads to shoulder bursitis.
- Frozen Shoulder: The technical name for a frozen shoulder is adhesive capsulitis. This condition comes on slowly and it cannot be identified with an X-ray or MRI. Eventually, the use of the shoulder becomes so severely restricted that it becomes too painful for everyday activities, such as reaching into your back pocket or putting on a belt. It’s believed that a buildup of scar tissue in the shoulder muscles could be one of the causes of this mysterious and painful condition.
Physical Therapy for Shoulder Pain
Your physical therapist will start the process of dealing with your shoulder pain by evaluating it. You’ll be asked questions about the cause of the pain, how severe it is, what makes it worse and whether anything makes it feel better. The physical therapist will conduct some tests to determine the range of motion in your shoulder and test its strength.
Depending on the cause of your shoulder pain, your therapist will begin a recommended course of treatment to improve your range of motion and start the healing process. This can involve pain management, such as identifying painful motions or activities and figuring out ways to avoid those. Your treatment will likely involve manual therapy, such as soft tissue massage, as well as range-of-motion exercises to help improve the function of your shoulder muscles and ligaments. Strengthening exercises may or may not be a part of your treatment, depending on the diagnosis. It’s important that you follow your physical therapist’s advice, so you can properly heal.
If you’re suffering from shoulder pain as a result of an injury, get the best shoulder pain relief treatment, contact us today at Clearwater, FL center to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist. We’ll get you back on the path to healing as quickly as possible!
What is the best exercise for shoulder pain?
While there is no one-stop solution for shoulder pain, there are many exercises that can be done to help strengthen the rotator cuff region and ease the pain you are experiencing. 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, including therapeutic modalities and targeted pain-relief exercises. A couple of common rotator cuff-strengthening exercises that physical therapists prescribe are wall push-ups and chair push-ups. Resistance bands can also be used to increase the strength in your shoulder and help relieve pain. However, it is important to note that if your pain is serious, these exercises should not be performed without the aid of a physical therapist.
How many types of shoulder pain exist?
When it comes to your upper extremities, injuries typically fall into two categories: acute or overuse. Acute injuries are caused by a single specific incident, such as a strain or tear. Overuse injuries are caused by excessive repetitive movements over time. Both acute and overuse injuries can range from mild to severe and can have a significant impact on daily life function. Shoulder pain can also be chronic, meaning it has persisted for 3 months or longer, despite efforts to relieve it. If you have been living with chronic shoulder pain, it is in your best interest to consult with a physical therapist as soon as possible, so they can get to the root of the problem and treat you accordingly.
Can physical therapy help shoulder pain?
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.
What are the causes of shoulder pain?
There are several underlying causes that could result in shoulder pain. For example, a sudden injury or trauma to the shoulders can cause them to become painful. Repetitive motions can also cause shoulder pain, as your muscles, joints, and tendons are working in overdrive. While there are multiple factors that could be causing your shoulder pain, some of the most common include sprains, strains, a torn cartilage, dislocation, frozen shoulder, tendinitis, and arthritis.