When we think of the shoulder, we all seem to think of one “ball and socket” joint, when in reality the shoulder is a complex of multiple joints supported by muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other tissues. It is an intricate system, and the ball and socket joint in particular is capable of a wider range of motion than any other joint in the body. This makes the shoulder susceptible to a wide range of injuries and conditions. You may feel these conditions throughout the day when you’re reaching into your kitchen cabinets, putting your wallet into your back pocket, buckling your seatbelt, or trying to find a comfortable sleeping position, etc. We don’t realize how much we use our shoulders each day until we experience shoulder pain! The good news is that almost every kind of shoulder pain can be helped with physical therapy, which will include a comprehensive evaluation by your therapist, followed by guidance through a specific rehab program tailored to your needs. Physical therapy can help you get back to doing your daily activities without having pain from some of the most common conditions you may have heard about, such as:
Impingement usually occurs due to abnormal movement of the humerus (or the “ball” in “ball and socket joint”) as you lift your arm overhead. Pain is typically felt in a range of lifting your arm from a bit below shoulder level to a bit above shoulder level.
Rotator cuff tears:
The rotator cuff is a set of four tendons that work to stabilize the humeral head on the shoulder blade (the “socket” in “ball and socket joint”). With an injury, overuse, poor posture, or even with aging, the rotator cuff can become partially or completely torn, causing pain and dysfunction. Depending on the severity, you may need surgery, but often physical therapy treatment can restore the strength and range of motion in the shoulder to heal or compensate for the partial tear.
This occurs when the shoulder joint is excessively used, perhaps from due to the heavy demands of a person’s occupation, a sport, or in general. This causes the tendons to become inflamed and cause pain with movement.
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, and it occurs when the cartilage in the shoulder starts to have “wear and tear” due to age or overuse. This results in painful loss of motion, weakness, and difficulty performing daily tasks.
Also known as “adhesive capsulitis”, this can occur if your arm has been immobilized in a sling for a long time, or you’ve been bedridden for a n extended period. Some ethnicities as well as women of all ethnicities are predisposed to this condition which is most common between the ages of 40-60 years. It results in a painful tightening and loss of motion in the shoulder joint.
Don’t let your shoulder pain limit your physical capabilities any longer! Your physical therapist will get you the help you need to start living your normal life once again, and will begin a course of treatment with you during the very first appointment.