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Common Causes of Shoulder Pain 101


The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, and we depend on it for a variety of activities, including reaching, lifting, gardening, and performing sports. As the shoulder is a highly mobile joint, it is susceptible to injury.

If you have a shoulder injury, you may experience nighttime discomfort and find it difficult to sleep on that side. The shoulder may feel extremely rigid or unstable, as though it’s about to explode from its socket. You may experience weakness in your shoulder muscles, making it difficult to perform daily tasks. Other than medication or surgery, you can opt for physiotherapy for shoulder pain.

The following are some common causes of shoulder discomfort.

1. Rotator Cuff Injuries

Acute rotator cuff injuries include:

  • Falling on an outstretched arm.
  • Raising an excessive amount of weight.
  • Catching a falling object.
  • Repetitive overhead labour.

Injuries to the rotator cuff can also result from degenerative wear and strain. As we age and become less active, tendons begin to degenerate and lose strength. This means they are easier to tear. Repetitive shoulder strain can increase the likelihood of developing a rupture.

Rotator cuff disorders may benefit from physiotherapy. Your physiotherapist will use manual therapy techniques to increase your range of motion and relax your muscles. A comprehensive exercise programme consisting of stretches and strength training will be prescribed. The stretches will enhance your flexibility and range of motion, while the strength training will aid in restoring function and preventing further injury. Your physiotherapist will guide posture, desk setup, sleeping positions, and modifying your daily activities to reduce shoulder stress.

2. Shoulder Dislocations or Instability

Shoulder instability is prevalent among adolescents and athletes. When the muscles and ligaments stabilising the shoulder are overstretched, the shoulder can become unstable. Certain motions used in tackling, hurling, pitching, and bowling can place excessive force on the shoulder, causing the ligaments to become overstretched. People often report that their shoulders feel feeble or lax. Shoulder subluxation and dislocation can occur if the ligaments become excessively lax or entirely rip. This is typically caused by collapsing on an outstretched hand, a violent twisting motion, or contact with the limbs above the head.

Physiotherapy for shoulder instability will emphasise restoring muscle strength and control so that the shoulder will be better supported. Your physiotherapist will evaluate your strength and biomechanics so that they can design an exercise regimen specifically for your requirements. The programme will consist of strength, stability, and endurance exercises.

3. Freezing Shoulder

Shoulder frostbite can be caused by trauma, a previous shoulder injury, post-operatively, or spontaneously. The joint capsule contracts and becomes inflamed, forming scar tissue and adhesions that result in a shoulder that is extremely rigid and excruciating. Additionally, it results in a restricted range of motion.

Physiotherapy treatment aims to hasten recovery through soft tissue massage to relax the muscles, mobilise the joints, and exercise to improve strength and flexibility. Your physiotherapist will provide stretches to increase your range of motion and alleviate your stiffness. After the discomfort has subsided, you will commence strengthening and endurance exercises.

4. Athletic Injuries

Shoulder injuries can occur in various sports, such as tennis, cricket, and swimming. Pain and inflammation can occur if the muscles, ligaments, and tendons are not functioning well together or coordinating effectively.

Physiotherapy is beneficial for treating sports-related shoulder injuries and preventing their occurrence. Your physiotherapist will perform a comprehensive evaluation to identify muscle imbalances or weaknesses. Then, they can prescribe you a custom-tailored exercise programme to address your weaknesses as well as improve your flexibility, stability, and endurance. Your physiotherapist will also offer guidance regarding your training burden, as any increases must be incremental to prevent shoulder overload. In addition, they will be able to evaluate your technique, communicate with your coach, and provide guidance on what you can do to prevent placing excessive tension on your shoulder.

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