Shoulder pain is very common and as you age you are more likely to experience shoulder pain from a variety of conditions. Pain that limits your ability to raise your arm over your head or rotate your shoulder is often related to conditions such as rotator cuff tendinopathy/tears, subacromial impingement syndrome, or bursitis. The pain can come on gradually or suddenly, and may range from mild to severe in intensity. Shoulder pain can limit your everyday activities such as getting dressed, brushing and drying your hair, reaching behind your back or grabbing objects overhead. However, the good news is that most people with subacromial shoulder pain improve with physical therapy!
A review of the most up-to-date research published in the March 2020 issue of the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy concluded that shoulder exercises are the best way to manage subacromial shoulder pain.
The strongest recommendation was for shoulder exercises that were supervised in the clinic or performed at home. Different types of shoulder exercises reduced pain, improved shoulder movement, and increased shoulder function. The most common exercises prescribed included strengthening the muscles around the shoulder and shoulder blade, as well as exercises to improve shoulder mobility or quality of movement. In addition to shoulder exercises, manual therapy performed by a physical therapist can help to decrease pain and improve shoulder mobility.
For patients with shoulder pain, exercise therapy was just as effective as a corticosteroid injection in the short term and shoulder decompression surgery in the long term. Exercise is less expensive and unlikely to generate negative side effects as compared to more invasive treatment options. It also offers the general health benefits of exercise.
If you have shoulder pain, one of our physical therapists can help! They will perform a thorough evaluation and develop an individualized treatment plan which will include appropriate shoulder strengthening and/ or mobility exercises, combined with manual therapy to help address your symptoms.
Pieters et al. “An Update of Systematic Reviews Examining the Effectiveness of Conservative Physical Therapy Interventions for Subacromial Shoulder Pain” J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2020;50(3):131-141.