Shoulder pain

Shoulder pain shouldn’t stop you from reaching for the stars…or that book on the shelf

Shoulder pain can happen for a variety of reasons. You may have just injured your shoulder—you fell or you lifted something too heavy. Perhaps your shoulder pain has been coming on gradually over months or years; you might have a job that requires you to use your arms a lot or you play a sport that requires a lot of throwing. Whatever the reason, you are just now seeking help.

When you hear about the shoulder, you often hear about the “rotator cuff.” The rotator cuff is actually four muscles [infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor] that help rotate the shoulder, which is critical for lifting your arm overhead. For your shoulder to feel good and for you to be able to get those plates out of the kitchen cabinet, all four muscles have to be working correctly. A physical therapy exam will include a full assessment of your shoulder joint, your neck , and your back muscles—all of these play an integral role in your shoulder movement.

Commonly Treated Shoulder Conditions:

  • Rotator cuff tear/strain
  • Subacromial pain syndrome
  • Tendinitis
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Labral tear
  • Shoulder Dislocation
  • Overuse injury

When to seek a physical therapist for shoulder pain:

  • You have difficulty reaching overhead.
  • You find it difficult to rest your hands on the wheel when driving
  • You have increased pain or discomfort when typing, washing dishes, or even just walking down the street.
  • Your shoulder aches when you sit for long periods of time, or when you are trying to sleep at night
  • You have pain when you try to sleep on the affected side
  • You have noticed your neck is tighter or more painful that before your shoulder pain
  • Quick movements cause your shoulder pain to “bite”

My MRI shows I have a rotator cuff tear—can physical therapy help?

That MRI showing a rotator cuff tear is scary, but it doesn’t have to mean surgery. Recent research shows that these tears are often incidental findings, meaning that you may have already had a tear that you didn’t know about, but you functioned perfectly well! Unless you have a very large tear (usually due to an injury) and are completely unable to move your arm over your head, research shows that conservative management can often resolve your symptoms.

Worried about that MRI? Schedule your appointment today! Our skilled physical therapist will help you get rid of that nagging shoulder pain and back on track.

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