Unveiling the Culprits: Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Unveiling the Culprits: Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Unveiling the Culprits: Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Is shoulder pain keeping you from sleeping? Is it preventing you from grabbing dishes off that high shelf or brushing your hair? Most common causes of shoulder pain don’t cause pain alone but will also limit your mobility, meaning shoulder pain can profoundly impact your day-to-day life. Fortunately, the physical therapists at Omni Physical Therapy & Wellness are here to help!

The shoulder is a complex ball-and-socket joint with several moving parts. This complexity allows you to move your arm in so many different directions, but it also means there’s a lot that can go wrong.

If you want to find relief for your shoulder pain or immobility, it’s important that you have one of our physical therapists help identify the underlying cause of that pain. That way, you can receive the best possible treatment for your condition.

Keep reading to learn more about shoulder pain’s common causes and accompanying symptoms. You can also schedule an appointment at our Garden City clinic for an initial consultation!

A Brief Overview of Shoulder Anatomy

Our physical therapists are experts in the body’s musculoskeletal system, including the shoulder. When you visit us, we’ll help you understand what exactly is going on in your shoulder–and which parts of it are causing you pain.

Here’s a brief overview of your shoulder’s complicated anatomy:

  • Bones: Your shoulder has three bones, the humerus (arm bone), scapula (shoulder blade), and clavicle (collarbone). They all come together to form the ball-and-socket joint of your shoulder.
  • The Rotator Cuff: This set of muscles and tendons wraps and supports your shoulder joint, providing strength, stability, and mobility.
  • Cartilage: Each of those bones is wrapped in cartilage that prevents the bones from rubbing against each when you move your shoulder. A particularly important piece of cartilage in your shoulder is your labrum, which reinforces the socket joint.
  • Ligaments: Your shoulder has three main ligaments that connect the shoulder’s bones to each other, helping to stabilize the joint.
  • Bursae: These tiny, fluid-filled sacs cushion and protect your shoulder’s tendons.

If something goes wrong in even one piece of shoulder anatomy, it can lead to pain and dysfunction. That’s why it’s important that you be very specific about your exact symptoms when you visit us at Omni Physical Therapy & Wellness. Knowing the type and location of your pain, plus any mobility issues you’re having, will help us more accurately pinpoint the source of your discomfort.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain–And Their Symptoms

Not all shoulder pain is the same. Here are a few of the most common causes of shoulder pain, along with the particular symptoms you should watch out for:

Rotator Cuff Injuries: Injuries to the muscles or tendons of the rotator cuff are one of the most common sources of shoulder pain. In some cases, those tissues may have been overworked (i.e. repetitive stress), injured from excessive loading, or become inflamed, leading to sudden pain when reaching overhead or behind your back. You might also experience shoulder stiffness and weakness

Sometimes, however, the tendons in your rotator cuff tear, either partially or completely. This more severe injury can cause similar symptoms as an inflamed or overworked rotator cuff, such as pain when reaching overhead. However, you’ll also notice arm weakness and pain when the arm is at rest, especially at night.

Shoulder Impingement: This is another common condition, occurring when the bones on the outer edge of your shoulder blade rub against (impinge upon) your shoulder’s tendons or bursa. It also causes pain when you reach overhead, along with pain in the top and outer side of your shoulder, as well as arm weakness and pain at night.

Shoulder Bursitis: Your shoulder tendons aren’t the only thing that can become inflamed–so can your bursae! Pain from this condition can manifest in different ways–it may be dull and aching or sharp and sudden. You may experience shoulder stiffness, swelling, and a painful range of motion.

Frozen Shoulder: This condition occurs when ligaments around the shoulder joint become thick, stiff, and inflamed. The pain is intense, and in some cases, it becomes extremely difficult to move your shoulder at all–and that immobility will remain even as the pain decreases.

How Physical Therapy Can Address These Common Shoulder Pain Causes

Regardless of the source of your shoulder pain, our physical therapists can help you find the relief you need through a blend of proven physical therapy techniques, including manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, and drug-free pain management.

The first thing we’ll do is conduct a comprehensive exam in which we review your symptoms and medical history and run a series of different movement screens looking at your shoulder’s strength and range of motion. This information helps us identify the root cause of your pain so we can develop a customized treatment plan to address the pain at its source.

Treatment will vary from person to person, depending on your specific conditions, needs, and recovery goals. Generally speaking, however, we’ll start by helping you manage your pain and slowly restore mobility, usually through manual therapy techniques such as joint mobilization (gently moving your shoulder through its current range of motion).

We’ll also create a progressive exercise program to get your shoulder moving. Most of these common causes of shoulder pain benefit immensely from movement, so gradually incorporating increasingly intense shoulder exercises will not only help you find temporary relief but resolve the problem entirely!

Occasionally, shoulder surgery may be necessary (such as for a complete rotator cuff tear). In that case, our physical therapists can help prepare you for the procedure beforehand and guide you through the rehabilitation afterward.

Achy Shoulder? Schedule an Appointment Today!

Shoulder pain can keep you from living a full, healthy lifestyle. The physical therapists will help you identify the pain’s source–and provide you with a means of addressing it.

To get started, call us to schedule an appointment!


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