5 Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Rotator cuff tendonitis, rotator cuff tears, biceps tendonitis, labral tears, shoulder instability, and impingement syndrome are some of the most common shoulder conditions that we see at Movement Solutions.  Almost everyone will experience shoulder pain at some point in their lives. This pain can vary from mild to severe. It can be short-lived or long-lasting. However it happens, shoulder pain can make many everyday activities difficult to perform.

There are common risk factors that can contribute to having shoulder problems.  We have found five common limitations that can contribute to shoulder pain and problems in our office.  They include:

  1. Stiffness of the lat muscles
  2. Stiffness of the thoracic spine region
  3. Weakness of the rotator cuff
  4. Weakness of the scapular stabilizers (lats, serratus anterior)
  5. Weakness in thoracic extension/rotation

Having prerequisite mobility at the thoracic spine and lats are crucial for normal movement.  When a loss of mobility is found in these areas, one’s posture may be stuck in a rounded position.

When posture is affected in this way, overhead mobility is limited.  Exercising with these imbalances can cause wear and tear on sensitive structures of the shoulders including the rotator cuff, biceps tendon, and the labrum.

In our physical therapy office, we first step we often take in reducing pain and restoring mobility is performing hands-on manual therapy.  This might include dry needling, soft-tissue mobilization, joint mobilization, or manipulation.

However, passive treatments alone won’t provide any lasting gains in mobility.  The reason for this is because stiffness and tension is usually driven my weakness of the stiff muscle as well as the muscle groups above and below that region.  More over, the body needs to learn to actively use the motion in order for the gains to hold.  In order to develop lasting mobility, inactive muscle groups must be activated and strengthened.  We have specific exercises that we we intentionally use to target these weak regions.

Once we have reinforced mobility, the next step is to work on stability.  Shoulder stability begins with preengaging the lat and serratus anterior muscles.  In our office, we call this “packing” the shoulders.  Packing the shoulders protects the sensitive tissues that run along the “ball” of the shoudler when lifting weights or swinging a bat, club, or raquet.

Finally, we know that if our patients have good mobility and stability in static positions but still have shoulder pain when moving or exercising, our rehab program isn’t very effective.  We teach our patients to move well with and without resistance in ways that simulate their activites or sports.

A thorough physical therapy assessment and plan of care should address these five common causes of shoulder pain.  However, ignoring pain and continuing to exercise with poor mechanics can develop into a more serious shoulder condition.  If you have shoulder pain when lifting, carrying, reaching overhead, or behind the back, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad to be a resource for you.

We have a free guide on relieving shoulder pain that can give you further insight into shoulder problems and help kick start your recovery.  We are available for a free 15-minute phone consultation to talk about how your pain is affecting you and discuss your treatment options.

If your concerns warrant an in-person consultation, we offer a limited number of free Discovery Visit’s at our office.  This type of appointment of for those who are interested in getting shoulder pain behind them.  It is an opportunity to ask questions, obtain clarity about your condition, and develop confidence that we can help you.

If you’re certain that we’re a good fit and ready to book an appointment, you can inquire about cost and availability.

If you’re in pain and unsure about what your next steps should be, call us at (864) 558-7346 and ask how we can help.

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