Shoulder pain treatment: A guide to how can physiotherapy provide immediate relief.
Symptoms, causes, and relief for shoulder pain
What is Shoulder Pain?
“My shoulder feels sore/stiff/frozen/numb!”
Not all of them are “painful”, but they too fall under the category. If you’ve experienced these, then you’re amongst the 26% of adults who will undergo this at one point or another.
Our shoulders allow us to move in a wide range of motions, from scratching our back to throwing a ball and performing complicated stretches. So, when something goes wrong in it, we feel not only discomfort but also inconvenience.
The signs of shoulder pain are:
- Inability to move as freely
- Stiffness or numbness in the muscles
- Warmth and redness in your shoulder
- Pain that radiates to your arm, neck, and back
How does physiotherapy provide treatment for shoulder pain?
Through non-surgical treatments such as massage therapy, manual therapy, and dry needling, along with many different treatments we have, we at Core Concepts are staffed by physiotherapists who are experts in human anatomy. If your condition is caused by an issue that stems from the muscles, joints, bones, tendons, or ligaments, we can lend a helping hand in providing treatment and tackling the root cause.
If there is a need, we can refer you to a specialist and are happy to work with them to treat your condition better.
Common causes for shoulder pain that we treat
From health conditions to injuries and trauma, there are several reasons why you may feel pain and discomfort in your shoulder. Continue reading to learn about the conditions we treat for shoulder pain and know more about them!
Instead of self-diagnosing, we highly recommend that you meet with a medical practitioner or one of our physiotherapists to identify the cause of your pain and discomfort. This is to ensure that you get appropriate treatment in your best interest.
Injury in your rotator cuff is common, and the chances increase as you age. If you are in an occupation that requires frequent usage of your shoulder, then you are more prone to experiencing this injury too.
Symptoms of a torn rotator cuff
- Have difficulty reaching back
- Feel a deep dull ache in your shoulder
- Your arm feels weak
More commonly known as frozen shoulder, this is a condition that’s slow to develop and heal. At first, you may not notice anything wrong, but the symptoms will worsen as time pass. This is usually caused by having to keep your shoulder still for long hours and may also be brought on by a broken arm.
This condition develops in stages, which are:
- Moving your shoulder will cause pain, and you will have a limited range of movement.
- There will be a reduction in pain, but movement will become more difficult.
- Your shoulder will begin to improve in mobility, as well as a gradual reduction in pain.
Symptoms of a frozen shoulder:
- Pain in your shoulder that worsens at night
- Persistent shoulder pain and stiffness
- Inability to move your arm and shoulder
Shoulder impingement is a common cause of discomfort amongst sufferers of shoulder pain. When you lift your arm, there’s the possibility that your tendon will rub against other tissue or catch on your bone. This is a condition that affects the rotator cuff tendon, and can resolve itself in a matter of weeks, but can be a persistent issue as it heals.
Symptoms of shoulder impingement
- Pain that worsens as you lift your arm, especially above the head
- Pain that worsens at night
- Pain in the top and outer side of the shoulder
Also known as tendonitis, it is an inflammation of your rotator cuff or biceps tendon. This condition can worsen if not treated early, and in severe cases, surgery may be needed.
Symptoms of tendon inflammation
- You can’t hold your arm in certain positions
- Your shoulder feels pain or tender
- Loss of strength or movement in that arm
This joint can be found in your shoulder where two bones meet, with one being the collarbone, and the other being the shoulder blade. Your coracoclavicular (CC) ligaments, may also be affected, as this is what holds your AC joint in place. AC Joint dysfunction is commonly caused by arthritis and fractures, as well as wear and tear due to frequent use.
This condition can also be divided into 3 types depending on severity:
- Your AC joint is slightly torn, and your CC is unharmed
- Your AC joint is completely torn, but your CC is either untouched or only slightly torn.
- Your AC and CC are completely torn, leading to your collarbone being detached from the end of your shoulder blade.
Symptoms of AC Joint dysfunction
- Limited mobility of shoulder and arm
- Bruising and swelling
- Your top of the shoulder feels sore
Our 4 steps treatment process for immediate shoulder pain relief!
We do not simply treat your symptoms and send you out of the door, but when you first come to us, we make sure that you’ll leave in significantly lesser discomfort and/or pain. Apart from tackling the root cause(s) of your condition, we aim to have you going beyond what you think you’re capable of after recovery.
And we do all that, in 4 simple steps!
As you come for your first session, our physiotherapist will get to know your condition, and symptoms, as well as answer your questions and clear up your concerns. You will also be assessed in detail to determine the cause of your pain.
To begin, you will be provided with immediate pain relief through our manual therapy or massage therapy. This is done to ensure that you leave in significantly less pain and to provide some much-needed comfort.
Then as you continue coming back to us, we will begin a plan to provide you with long-term pain relief. You will be asked about your goals and plans for treatments, during the first session, and as your physiotherapist draws up a personalized treatment plan.
If you miss the days before you have to live with your shoulder in pain and discomfort, we have good news! We will not simply treat your symptoms but rigorously work to find out the root cause of your pain and have it dealt with. This is to ensure that you are pain-free as soon as possible!
Now that you’re pain-free doesn’t mean that the journey has ended! We, at Core Concepts, go further beyond that. We aim to have you be better than before, for example, if you’re able to stretch your arm only to a certain degree without being sore, we can help you go further than that.
Our available treatments for shoulder pain
Facilitated Stretch Therapy (FST)
FST improves your flexibility and ability to stretch. Even if you’re not aiming to be a gymnast, having greater flexibility is ideal for you! It protects your joints from damage caused by falling or accidental overexertion and saves you a world of pain. As you age, degenerative conditions can affect your muscles and tendons, and with FST, you can keep them away!
This isn’t a treatment per se, but a prevention program by us at Core Concept. Workplace Health consists of us evaluating your office on improvements that can be made for better ergonomics and giving talks on improving health and safety while working. With laptops, phones, and desktops being an inseparable part of our workforce, it isn’t a surprise why shoulder pains are on the rise.
Balancing your body is important to prevent injuries. Pilates exercise is a series of steps that are done throughout this treatment, monitored by your physiotherapist, with each being centered on a different goal.
How to prevent shoulder pain?
Rest adequately after strenuous activities
This can reduce the chance of your developing an injury or condition that leads to shoulder pain. There is no shame in taking a day or two off if it is for your own benefit. Allow your body to heal and recharge!
Have proper posture
We can’t stress this enough! A poor posture can lead to the development of not only shoulder pain but also problems in your neck and back. Take a break after a maximum of an hour of sitting and stretch yourself or walk around. Be mindful of your posture as you sit and correct yourself as soon as you catch yourself slouching.
Strengthen your shoulders
This will prevent injuries and improve flexibility, allowing you to move in a wider range of motions. You don’t even need a gym subscription for this, as the internet provides a wide variety of guides on how to do so.
Don’t lift anything above your head
This places your shoulder in a closed-off position, leaving it more prone to injury. The same goes for heavy objects, if you can’t lift them, it is best to ask for help rather than potentially hurting yourself in the process.
Risk factors for shoulder pain
Prevention is better than cure! And that goes for all conditions, including shoulder pain. So, why do some get shoulder pain more frequently than others? Why are some free from this condition in their entire lives?
Frequent use of shoulder
Athletes and those working in occupations that need frequent use of the shoulder and its surrounding parts are more prone to shoulder pain. This is because there is a greater chance of them overusing it and leading to injuries.
Had previously injured their shoulder
In cases of previous shoulder injury such as dislocation, fracture, or tearing are at higher risk of developing shoulder pain.
This factor can also be seen in our sections on back and neck pain, therefore it shows how big of an impact it has. Ergonomic furniture is the way to go if you have no choice but to sit for long hours either for work or studies.
Have an injury? Ordered to rest by your doctor or physiotherapist? Is your body screaming at you to take a break? Then it is best to either slow down or stop the physical activity you are engaging in before you worsen or develop an injury.
Tendons and cartilage can degenerate over time, therefore those over the age of 50, they are at a higher risk of developing this condition.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Shoulder Pain
Seeking a physiotherapist as early as possible would allow a more efficient recovery period. Very often, delaying treatment can cause the condition to worsen over time as it causes scar tissue buildup which can make it more challenging to treat. If you are experiencing shoulder pain that is severe and limiting your movement, do seek treatment immediately.
We are unable to answer this unless we conduct a physical assessment for you. However, we have had many successes with clients who were experiencing frozen shoulders and they were able to regain motion. Do give us a call to set up an appointment to consult with our physiotherapists
Some precautions can be taken to prevent shoulder pain such as warming up before you work out or starting slow if you haven’t done a specific activity in a while. Listen to your body, if it starts to hurts when you exercise or do a certain activity – stop the activity. If the pain doesn’t go away, see a doctor or a certified physiotherapist immediately.
The shoulder is one of the most flexible joints in the body that allows us the widest range of movement, as a result, they are also the most unstable joint, making the shoulder prone to injuries. To determine what is causing your shoulder pain, our physiotherapists would need to conduct an assessment before coming up with a diagnosis for your pain. After determining the diagnosis, we will be able to run through your physical activities to conclude how the pain occurred.
Depending on your condition, your shoulder pain may recover with sufficient rest and care. If it is a simple shoulder strain from exercising, you could experience a dull ache that goes away with time. However, if you are experiencing a sharp pain that limits your movement (eg: unable to move shoulder past a certain height) it would be advised to seek medical advice to determine if the condition is serious or not. If you have been experiencing shoulder pain for a prolonged period of time (more than a few weeks) that doesn’t seem to get better – do make arrangements to seek medical advice to determine the cause of your pain.