Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain can be caused from a wide variety of conditions. It can be due to acute trauma or repetitive strain causing direct injury to the structures of the shoulder joint itself or can be referred from the neck, upper back or ribs and also from numerous internal organs. Stress and tension along with emotional or psychological strain can play a role in shoulder pain especially if it began without any clear injury and has been present for a long period of time.

Just as with back pain or neck pain It is vital that whichever form of therapist you choose to attend for your shoulder pain whether it is a physical therapist, sports therapist, chiropractor, physiotherapist or osteopath that you ensure your therapist has the right qualifications and abilities to assess and manage your condition safely and effectively.

Acuate diagnosis at the outset is the key to a swift and complete recovery when dealing with shoulder pain especially since there are so many potential sources of the pain. Healthy shoulders require a good balance of strength and mobility particularly around the muscles of the shoulder blades. Quite often poor posture and faulty shoulder mechanics occur due to poor training techniques, prolonged static postures for example long periods sitting at a desk or from a previous injury that was inadequately rehabilitated. Quite often correcting these dysfunctional patterns and restoring optimal movement is the foundation of treating an injured shoulder.

Some of the more common shoulder injuries that we see at dundalk physical therapy include :

Rotator Cuff Injury

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and their tendons that wraps around the front, back, and top of the shoulder joint. The function of this group of muscles is to provide dynamic stability to the shoulder as it moves through a range of motion. These tendons and muscles can be injured through an acute trauma or chronic overload over a period of time. People with rotator cuff tendon injuries present with pain and difficulty with overhead acticities.

Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability is a problem that occurs when the structures that surround the shoulder joint do not work to keep the ball tightly within its socket. If the joint is too loose it may slide partially out of place, a condition called shoulder subluxation. If the joint comes completely out of place, this is called a shoulder dislocation. Patients with shoulder instability often complain of an uncomfortable sensation that their shoulder may be about to shift out of place. The pain may arise from the tissues at the top, back or front of the shoulder and from the muscles surrounding the shoulder.

Labral Tear

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, similar to the hip; however, the socket of the shoulder joint is extremely shallow, and thus inherently unstable. This means that the bones of the shoulder are not held in place adequately, and therefore extra support is needed.
To compensate for the shallow socket, the shoulder joint has a cuff of cartilage called a labrum that forms a cup for the end of the arm bone (humerus) to move within. The labrum circles the shallow shoulder socket (the glenoid) to make the socket deeper. This cuff of cartilage makes the shoulder joint much more stable, and allows for a very wide range of movements. Glenoid labral tears may occur as an acute injury or from overuse. The most common symptom with this injury is pain, especially with overhead activities. You may have popping or clicking in the shoulder, as well as feelings of the shoulder locking up or needing to pop. Quite often the clicking or popping is painful. You may also have a loss of strength, or feelings of instability…like your shoulder is going to come out of place.

Shoulder Stiffness

Stiffness may may be secondary to trauma, including surgery, or from injury to the nerves exiting from the neck. It may also occur spontaneously in middle age – a condition called “adhesive capsulitis” or “frozen shoulder”. Frozen shoulder is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint. Signs and symptoms typically begin gradually, worsen over time and then resolve, usually within one or two years.

Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Pain

The AC joint is the junction between the collar bone and the shoulder blade and is located at the top of your shoulder joint. Pain from the AC joint is usually located at the joint itself. AC joint injuries typically occur from a fall onto the tip of the shoulder or a fall onto an outstretched arm.