Understanding shoulder pain

By Brielle Jarrett
Physiotherapist at Life Ready Physio Warwick

Shoulder pain is a common complaint we see as physiotherapists at Life Ready Physio and can impact significantly on the things that you like to do with your time.

To understand shoulder pain, we must first understand the shoulder joint. The shoulder joint or “glenohumeral joint” is a ball and socket joint, made up of the upper arm or “humerus bone”, the shoulder blade and collar bone. The joint is then surrounded by a capsule and provides passive stability to the joint. The rotator cuff is important to the shoulder as the muscles work to provide dynamic stability when you move your arm. The rotator cuff attaches on the shoulder blade and surround the humerus bone.

What causes pain in the shoulder?
Pain and discomfort in the shoulder can arise from many structures in the joint, dysfunction in the rotator cuff muscles and inflammatory processes. Here are some common conditions that can cause shoulder pain.

Subacromial Impingement Syndrome
Occurs when the structures in the space between the collarbone and upper arm get sensitised, causing shoulder pain and disability. This can be caused by repetitive overuse of the arm, muscle imbalance of the rotator cuff and musculature surrounding the shoulder blade. Subacromial impingement can lead to bursitis of the shoulder and degenerative rotator cuff tears.

Glenohumeral Joint Instability
Occurs when the joint capsule looses its integrity and becomes unstable in certain positions. This can be due to an isolated or recurrent dislocation of the shoulder joint or congenital joint changes that have been present since birth.

Osteoarthritis
Is a degenerative joint disease involving the wearing down of the articular cartilage in the shoulder joint resulting in stiffness and pain.

Adhesive Capsulitis
This condition is also known as “frozen shoulder” and is a condition in which the shoulder capsule becomes inflamed and stiff. This leads to greatly restricted motion in the shoulder, as well as pain.

How can shoulder pain be treated?
We at Life Ready Physio can help you best manage your shoulder pain by utilising hands on physiotherapy techniques such as joint mobilisations and massage, as well as give you therapeutic exercises to assist decrease your pain and improve function in your shoulder.

How can I prevent shoulder pain?
So now you know about shoulder pain, how can you prevent it?

The best way is by staying physically active and keeping your muscles in your upper body strong, however being mindful of your posture when lifting and carrying can also help to prevent unwanted injuries to the shoulder.

If you are suffering from a painful shoulder, it’s always best to book in for a consultation with our physiotherapists for a comprehensive discussion and assessment, so we can best manage your pain, together.