Physio advice on relieving shoulder pain
Pain Management

The best physiotherapy exercises to relieve shoulder pain

Shoulder pain can cause a significant amount of pain and discomfort to everyday activities, hobbies, work and even sleeping. The shoulder is a complex joint however it can be quite easily treated with physiotherapy. The correct exercises and advice can help to relieve your shoulder pain and help you on the road to recovery.

What is in the shoulder joint and how does it work?

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint. It has a large degree of movement and is very shallow. The stability of the shoulder joint is reliant on the shoulder ligaments and rotator cuff muscles that surround it. The rotator cuff is made up of four different muscles the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. These muscles stretch from the shoulder blade and attach the shoulder bone. There are also several other muscles and ligaments around the shoulder joint that contribute to its stability and function.

What are the most common types of injuries that occur in the shoulder?

The most common causes of pain in the shoulder are:

  • Irritation to one of the rotator cuff tendons
  • Tendinopathy to one of the rotator cuff tendons (this is where the tendon becomes thickened and painful limiting function and increasing pain
  • Frozen shoulder (where the shoulder joint becomes stiff and painful when it’s moved)
  • Rotator cuff strain (strain to one of the muscles that stabilise the shoulder)
  • Shoulder dislocation (joint comes out of its normal position)
  • Labral tear in the shoulder (this is the tissue that surrounds the acromion and helps deepen the joint)
  • Shoulder fracture (break to the humerus)

There are many more injuries, but the ones mentioned above are the most common that we’d see here in the clinic.

Should I get a scan or an x-ray on my shoulder?

The only scenarios where you would need an urgent scan would be if you had a traumatic incident that resulted in significant, immediate pain that continues to worsen after the event. In this circumstance an x-ray or scan, as decided by your doctor or Physiotherapist, should be carried out ASAP.

If there has been no traumatic event and the pain gradually increased over a period, with no incident or a very minor one, then you should firstly book a physiotherapy assessment. Following this you’ll receive a treatment plan for your shoulder pain. If, after 4-6 weeks there has been no improvement in your symptoms, then you could discuss the possibility of further investigations either through physiotherapy or through your GP.

How can I reduce the pain in my shoulder pain?

Firstly, shoulder pain can be eased by avoiding any aggravating activities for a week or two. If it’s safe to do so, pain relief can also be taken (check with your GP or Pharmacist). For further pain relief, please see our shoulder physiotherapy exercises below. If the pain has not improved after a few days then make an appointment with us for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

How can Physiotherapy help my shoulder pain?

Physiotherapy will find the source of your pain. This is achieved by undertaking a full assessment. This would include your history your range of motion, flexibility, strength and nervous system. Following this you will be given a specific treatment plan that will alleviate your pain. Physiotherapy should be your first option when you have shoulder pain. Most of the time, with the right advice, exercises, guidance and manual therapy, your pain will completely resolve.

Which Physiotherapy exercises will relieve shoulder pain?

For a specific programme of exercises tailored to your needs, I would recommend booking an appointment with us. However, simple exercises should help and not cause irritation, provided you exercise in a pain-free range.

Pendulum swings: let your arm dangle and swing side to side, forward, back and in a circular motion x10 2-3 daily, as pain allows

Pendulum swings

Active assisted movements: forwards and sideways with an umbrella or broom handle x10 2-3 daily, as pain allows

Active assisted movements

Roll shoulders: in circular motion both directions x10 2-3 daily, as pain allows

If any of these exercises increase your pain and it does not settle within 20 minutes, then stop and contact Next Level Physiotherapy for an appointment.

If you have shoulder pain or have recently had shoulder surgery, then contact Next Level Physiotherapy here and we will get you back on the road to recovery. You can also take advantage of our new online booking facility here.

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