Shoulder pain is a common complaint that seems to increase with age and affects 15 to 30 percent of adults at some stage of their lives. Problems in the shoulder occur with everyday wear and tear, overuse, or injury. Shoulder problems  are very common as we age and could affect 15 to 30 per cent of adults at any one time. Shoulder injuries are a common reason to visit the physio.

What causes shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain is very common in all age groups and can be divided into 3 main subdivisions:

  • Impingement/rotator cuff injuries
  • Instability
  • Adhesive capsulitis/frozen shoulder

The main shoulder joint (glenohumeral) is a very mobile joint that requires great co-ordination and control by the rotator cuff muscles to ensure you can use the shoulder with no pain or limitation.  Traumatic shoulder injuries from falls, sports injuries, or muscle and tendon strains can lead to restriction in movement and an imbalance of your working muscles.  Likewise instability of the shoulder can be caused by heavy, repetitive movements especially in awkward positions, increase the risk of rotator cuff tendon degeneration and injury.

Adhesive shoulder or frozen shoulder can occur with no injury but more from degeneration of the shoulder joints and muscles/tendons of the shoulder.  It will present with very limited movements in all directions, deep general ache and the loss of function.  The longer you’ve had the symptoms, the longer the symptoms will generally take to improve.

When to see a physio or exercise physiologist

It is sensible to consult Coastal Physio if your shoulder pain fails to clear up after a couple of days of rest and application of ice (if the injury is recent) or heat (if the pain is from a chronic condition).

Other indications that it is time to call your physio are:

  • inability to use the arm or to carry objects
  • inability to raise the arm
  • pain while at rest
  • swelling or significant bruising around the shoulder joint or on the arm
  • Limited movement in your shoulder
  • Trouble putting your hand behind your back
  • Pain when reaching out in front or above your head
  • Pain in the shoulder when you sleep on it
  • Pain at the front or back of the shoulder and at times radiating down the top of the shoulder

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important that you have your condition assessed by a physiotherapist who may prescribe a tailored series of exercises to prevent and manage injury and help optimise your health. As a private patient, you dont need a referral from your GP in order to see a physiotherapist.

Shoulder Injury Assessment:

Coastal Physiotherapy will conduct a comprehensive history, assessment of your shoulder including the co-ordination of the shoulder muscles, specific shoulder tests and strength to find out exactly what is causing your shoulder pain.  Other tests that we may be suggested include an Xray, ultrasound scan or MRI if it is appropriate.

Shoulder Injury Treatment:

Coastal Physiotherapy’s treatment plan for your shoulder pain will focus on correcting your function by getting your stiff joints moving, your imbalanced muscles working better and strengthening any identified weak muscles.

Techniques that we use for your shoulder pain include shoulder mobilisation, muscle releases, strengthening work, stretching and a supervised gym/pilates program.

Some simple steps you can take to get some short term relief and give your shoulder the best chance of healing quickly:

  • Keep Moving: It is very important to keep moving as much as you comfortably can to avoid stiffness.
  • Use Ice: Ice has been demonstrated to help alleviate pain and swelling around the shoulder joint.
  • Watch your posture: Try to keep your shoulder in a neutral position during activities including watching TV, reading or using your computer.
  • Exercises: Some basic shoulder stability exercises will help stabilise the shoulder and reduce the pain.

Please contact us to arrange a comprehensive shoulder pain consultation to help identify the exact nature of your shoulder pain and begin to correct it.

How to Prevent Shoulder Injuries

Injuries can occur in the workplace, out on the sporting field, as the result of an accident or through repetitive strain being placed on a joint or muscle. They can strike when you least expect it, and can have a debilitating effect on your everyday life and work.

Exercise can play a key role in injury recovery by getting you back up to full speed as soon as possible.

One of the best ways to prevent injury is to listen to the warning signs the body gives out. Pain is the body’s way of telling you something is not right!

The most effective way to minimise the risk of injury during exercise is to complete both a warm up and a cool down session of about 10 minutes duration. Light cardiovascular exercise using the same muscles that will be used during the main activity will prepare the body for exercise by:

  • slowly increasing heart rate
  • increasing the blood flow to the working muscles
  • raising breathing rate
  • warming up the muscles
  • Flexibility is absolutely a part of every good warm-up. Once the muscles are warm, they become more elastic and are ready to be used.

A cool down is just as important as a warm up so following activity add some gentle stretches. Whether choosing to perform static stretches (by holding each position for 10-30 seconds) or performing dynamic stretches (by moving the body through a functional range of motion) flexibility is essential for the muscles, tendons and joints.