Physiotherapy and Shoulder Pain
The old saying is that we carry the world on our shoulders, and a lot of us carry more tangible things there, like bags and boxes. And we use them to power our arms and hands when we push and pull ourselves up or down, and put them under strain by hunching over desks.
We expect a lot of them, and often take them for granted, but when they cry out for attention by generating pain, we cry, too. Fortunately, physiotherapy can play a big part in drying those tears.
The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, a lot smaller than the hip’s one, which is surrounded by an extremely complex structure of nerves, bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons and pockets, lubrication and cushioning systems and other joints, that all work together to help move your arm and hand.
But its complexity also makes it vulnerable to injury or damage to one or more of these many parts and increases the difficulty in finding out where shoulder pain starts.
What Causes Shoulder Pain?
The major and most common causes of shoulder pain are muscle tension; damage to tendons, cartilages and muscles or the protective pocket around the shoulder joint; injury to bones; and the resulting inflammation and swelling that develops as a reaction to this sort of damage, injury, infection, or chronic health problems like osteoarthritis.
And because the shoulder is linked to other areas, the pain may not have anything to do with the shoulder itself, but instead is transferred from other areas like the neck. A good way to tell if this is the case is if your hands or arm have a tingling sensation.
What Will Physiotherapy Do For Your Shoulder Pain?
Physiotherapists develop an individualized program for different people and the different injuries or pains they are experiencing, in order to restore function and relieve pain. And shoulder pain treatment is no exception.
Your physiotherapist, after examining your shoulder and other areas like the neck which could be causing the pain, will test your range of motion and the strength of your shoulder before creating a program for you which may employ various therapy modalities.
Some of the work involved, like stretches and exercises, will then be handed over to you to do at home, while the rest will be applied by the physiotherapist manually or by using equipment.
- Manual therapy includes manipulation or mobilization of the joint and using massage to mobilize the soft tissue.
- Taping is becoming a popular and effective resource for dealing with pain and function in various parts of the body. Binding the shoulder with tape not only relieves the pain, but can also help or restrict muscle activity, increase muscular effort, and improve sensorimotor control. It can also be used to adjust the shoulder’s posture if the joint has slumped forward after long periods spent slouching at a desk.
- Electrotherapy in the form of lasers, ultrasound and even shockwave therapy, may be included in the program primarily to reduce pain, and sometimes to recover function in the shoulder.
- Exercise will always be one of physiotherapy’s major tools for improving mobility, strength and function. The exercise routine provided by your physiotherapist will take into account the range of motion and the strength of your shoulder, as well as the cause and level of pain.
While physiotherapists cannot help you by performing surgery or other medical procedures needed because of physical damage to your shoulder like broken bones, they perform a valuable role in restoring the shoulder area while you are recovering after surgery or when surgery is not necessary.