Shoulder Pain Treatment

Rotator Cuff Injuries, Impingement, Shoulder Pain and Post-Surgical Rehabilitation

Is My Shoulder Pain Something Serious?

There are many reasons why you may be having shoulder pain.  In most cases, these pains are associated with the joints and musculature of the shoulder, neck, ribs, or thorax.  It should be noted that if your shoulder pain is sudden and not related to an injury, consult a doctor immediately.  This may be a sign of a heart attack.  Other signs of a heart attack include trouble breathing, chest tightness, dizziness, excessive sweating, and pain in the neck or jaw.  Call 911 immediately if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Go to an emergency room if you injured your shoulder and are bleeding, swollen, or you can see exposed tissues.  Additionally, you should contact your doctor if you experience fever, inability to move your shoulder, lasting bruising, heat and tenderness around the joint, or pain that persists beyond a few weeks of home treatment.

Shoulder Pain, It’s Complicated

The shoulder is made up of several joints including the glenohumeral, scapulothoracic, sternoclavicular, and the acromioclavicular joints.  There are numerous muscular attachments to the shoulder girdle including the biceps, triceps, deltoid, trapezius, rotator cuff, latissimus, levator scapulae, and rhomboids.  Most people are familiar with the rotator cuff (not rotator cup!) due to the high frequency of tears that occur with both younger and older individuals.  Injuries to the rotator cuff may occur from throwing a baseball, playing tennis, falling on an outstretched arm, or lifting a suitcase, however, there are many ways the rotator cuff can be damaged.  Some of these cuff tears require surgery, while others can be treated back to good health with a conservative therapy program.  If you are planning to have surgery, consult your physician to find out if a prehab program will help you recover more quickly.

Lastly, there are times when pain in the shoulder may be originating from a different body part.  There are conditions affecting the cervical spine that can cause referred pain into the shoulder.  There are also problems affecting visceral structures (heart, lungs, gall bladder, diaphragm, and other organs) that can refer pain to the shoulder.  Our therapist will help you determine the origin of your pain.

How Can We Help Relieve Your Shoulder Pain?

Our occupational therapist or physical therapist can assist you in managing shoulder problems for both pre-operative and post-operative situations.  Following a detailed examination with the therapist we will help you understand whether you are experiencing shoulder pain due to a shoulder issue, neck problem, or due to referred pain from a visceral structure.  Specifically, your therapist will:

  • Design exercises to help you strengthen your shoulder and scapula musculature.
  • Show you how to avoid potentially harmful positions
  • Train you to properly control your shoulder movement and modify your activities to reduce your risk of sustaining a labral injury.
  • Provide posture education to help you avoid placing unnecessary forces on the shoulder
  • Help you increase your shoulder and middle-back flexibility.

Our individualized treatments are provided in a one-on-one approach.  We use a variety of evidence-based techniques including manual therapy, appropriate therapeutic exercise, kinesiotaping, thermal and electrical modalities, and patient education for home management of your condition.  Our goals are to reduce pain and swelling, increase range of motion, improve flexibility and strength, improve posture and endurance, teach you a home program, return to activities, and speed your recovery time.

Conditions We Commonly Treat Include:

  • Shoulder Replacement
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries and Repairs
  • Shoulder Impingement
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Shoulder Bursitis
  • Labral Tears and Repairs
  • Sports Injuries
  • Tendinitis
  • Shoulder weakness and re-training


APTA Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

APTA Shoulder Bursitis


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