The shoulder is a ball and socket joint with a lot of movement. It is supported by the shoulder girdle made up of the scapula (shoulder blade), humerus, clavicle (collarbone), and rib cage. There are many structures which help to create movement and/or provide stability at the shoulder such as muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, bursae, nerves and bones.
The shoulder often lacks the stability and coordination to control it’s position throughout greater movements. Structures such as ligaments, cartilage and the rotator cuff muscles play an important role in the shoulders stability. The neck, thoracic spine and ribcage have an influence on overall shoulder function. Joint stiffness through the thoracic spine may place more load demands on the shoulder to complete tasks such as reaching overhead or lifting.
Common conditions seen at / around the shoulder include:
- Rotator cuff tears/strains
- Rotator cuff tendinopathy
- Sub-acromial impingement
- Labral tears
- Adhesive capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder)
- Referred pain from the neck
It is important to have a thorough history and examination to determine an accurate diagnosis of the likely cause of your shoulder pain. Once this is determined management most often follows a multimodal approach including:
- Advice and education: about what might be causing your shoulder pain, how long it’s likely to take to get better and the movements/exercises/habits which you need to avoid / do to help the shoulder improve.
- Exercises: focused exercise plan aimed at reducing your pain and improving your shoulder function. This may involve strengthening weaker muscles, improving the coordination of your shoulder through movement or stretching to areas such as the thoracic spine. It is also important to allow adequate rest / recovery to allow muscles and tendons to adapt to the exercise.
- Manual therapy: including massage and joint mobilisations can help reduce pain and improve mobility quickly.
How to maintain a healthy shoulder:
- Exercises to help maintain strong and stable shoulders
- Maintaining mid-back mobility
- Reducing stress
- Consistent sleep and effective recovery following activities
If you or someone you know is experiencing pain around the shoulder, we are happy to help so don’t hesitate to contact us today!