Shoulder Pain

Injuries & Treatments

Shoulder Pain

The shoulder joint provides mobility to allow us to carry out everyday tasks such as reaching our arms out, placing our hand behind our head or back, and playing sports. It is designed to be highly mobile and relies heavily on correct muscle strength and balance for optimum functioning. Often shoulder pain starts gradually and is usually caused as a result of repetitive poor movement at the joint causing inflammation. When the shoulder joint becomes painful to move, it inevitably becomes stiff and function is impaired.

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Assessment is an integral part, as a physiotherapist needs to look at posture and muscular imbalances to determine if these factors are causing the pain. They also need to feel for cervical vertebrae alignment, movement and stiffness. Neck problems can produce referred pain into the arm(s) so assessment of any neurological impairment is necessary.


  • Ultrasound to reduce inflammation.
  • Soft tissue massage to break down adhesions and release tension in surrounding muscles.
  • Joint mobilisations to regain or improve range of movement.
  • Taping of the shoulder or shoulder girdle to retrain postural and stabilising muscles.
  • A specialised exercise programme including stretching and strengthening of the stabilising muscles around the shoulder joint and shoulder girdle.
  • Pilates provides excellent benefits to the body in terms of building core control and stabilising the body as a whole. This enables the shoulder and upper limb to move in an optimum position on a stable torso, avoiding new or further injury.

Common types of injuries

  • Shoulder impingement syndrome – pain caused by inflammation of the muscles or bursa as they pass through the sub-acromial space at the shoulder joint.
  • Rotator cuff sprain/tear – a tear of the small stabilising muscles around the shoulder, which leads to pain and loss of range of movement and strength.
  • Shoulder bursitis – inflammation of the protective fat pad (bursa) within the shoulder joint, this can have a sudden onset and cause severe pain.
  • Shoulder instability/dislocation – weakness of the rotator cuff muscles surrounding the joint, which can lead to an increased risk of shoulder dislocation.
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