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Common Causes of Shoulder Pain and How Physical Therapy Can Help

Your shoulder is the most flexible and moveable joint in your body, consisting of several bones, muscles, joints and tendons. This means there are several ways the shoulder can become injured and cause pain. There are many causes of shoulder pain and steps you can take to eliminate the discomfort. Physical therapy is an effective way of treating several types of shoulder pain. Call our office to find out how working with an experienced physical therapist can help ease your shoulder pain.

Causes of Shoulder Pain

Sometimes, a sudden injury can occur that causes shoulder pain. Other times, repetitive motions can gradually cause joints, tendons and muscles in the shoulder area to hurt. Physical therapy can treat several specific conditions that may be contributing to the pain in your shoulder. A physical therapist can create a customized program to specifically meet your needs.

Torn Cartilage

A torn cartilage can produce a number of painful symptoms. These include limited range of motion, decreased strength and clicking sensations when you’re moving your arm. You may also experience pain when moving your arm in certain positions. Physical therapy can provide pain relief if you’re suffering from a torn cartilage.


Tendonitis is an irritated or inflamed tendon. This condition can occur in a variety of locations throughout the body. Tennis elbow, swimmer’s shoulder and jumper’s knee are all specific types of tendonitis. Pain is often dull and achy. There is sometimes swelling and tenderness as well. A physical therapist can treat different types of tendonitis.

Sprains and Strains

Basic sprains and strains can cause ongoing shoulder pain that makes it difficult to perform daily activities. A sprain is when a ligament is stretched or torn. A strain involves a tendon or muscle that is stretched or torn. Minor sprains and strains can sometimes be iced at home and will eventually heal on their own. Those that are more severe will often require physical therapy.


Bursitis, or joint inflammation, often occurs in areas of the body that are used in the same repetitive motions. It specifically affects the fluid-filled sacs that surround and cushion the tendons, muscles and bones. Symptoms can include stiffness, achiness and the area appearing red or swollen. You’ll want to try physical therapy to ease your painful symptoms.

Frozen Shoulder

This is a painful condition that gradually worsens and then will normally resolve itself in a few years. In the meantime, frozen shoulder can produce ongoing pain and stiffness. A physical therapist can provide treatment options to address this condition.


There are several types of joint diseases that are considered as arthritis. Two of the most common include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between your bones breaks down and the bones begin to rub together. Physical therapy can ease your pain and improve mobility.

How Physical Therapy Can Help

A physical therapist can provide pain relief for a variety of conditions while also improving flexibility and range of motion. A trained physical therapist can use cold or heat therapy to ease pain and increase mobility. They often implement different types of manual therapy. Physical therapy could include kneading and massaging specific joints, tendons and muscles in the shoulder area. Sometimes, a physical therapist can teach you a series of exercises that you’ll be able to do at home that can provide pain relief while your shoulder is healing. Other techniques used might include aqua therapy, ultrasound or electrical nerve stimulation.

Whatever type of pain you’re experiencing, a trained physical therapist can create a program to treat your particular condition. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our physical therapists.


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