Common Causes of Shoulder Pain and How Physical Therapy Can Help

shoulder pain relief

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain and How Physical Therapy Can Help

Your shoulder is the most flexible and movable 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. Physiotherapy is an effective way of treating several types of shoulder pain. Call NRG Athletes Physiotherapy to find out how working with an experienced physiotherapist 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. Physiotherapy can treat several specific conditions that may be contributing to the pain in your shoulder. A physiotherapist 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. physiotherapy 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 physiotherapist 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 physiotherapy.


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 physiotherapy 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 physiotherapist 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. Physiotherapy can ease your pain and improve mobility.

How Physiotherapy Can Help

A physiotherapist can provide pain relief for a variety of conditions while also improving flexibility and range of motion. A trained physiotherapist can use cold or heat therapy to ease pain and increase mobility. They often implement different types of manual therapy. physiotherapy could include kneading and massaging specific joints, tendons and muscles in the shoulder area. Sometimes, a physiotherapist 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 physiotherapist can create a program to treat your particular condition. Contact NRG Athletes Physiotherapy Winnipeg, CA today to schedule a consultation with one of our physiotherapists.

How Good Posture Can Prevent Shoulder Impingement

Typically, shoulder impingement is caused by repetitive motions. Weight lifters, tennis players, painters and construction workers are susceptible to shoulder impingement. At the same time, shoulder impingement can be caused by daily activities like driving, reading, working and cooking. The postures during these activities can affect the amount of subacromion space in the shoulders. The shoulders have three bones that are attacked by muscles and tendons known as the rotator cuff. When the shoulders are raised, the space between the acromion and the rotator cuff narrows. The rotator cuff and acromion can actually rub against the tendons and cause shoulder impingement. Those with shoulder impingement can have difficulty lifting their arm above the head or even putting on a coat. Left untreated, it can cause a tear in the rotator cuff. Good posture can help prevent shoulder impingement.

How Good Posture Avoids Shoulder Impingement

With good posture, there is no misalignment of the shoulder blade to throw off proper scapulohumeral rhythm. It also keeps the muscles around the upper back, shoulder and chest flexible. There’s no tightening of the trapezius muscle. Muscles tighten or stretch with poor posture. Overtime, this muscle imbalance leads to injury or muscle pain.

A Guide to Good Posture

Sitting, standing and sleeping in the right position leads to good body function and helps prevent shoulder impingement. Follow these tips:

  • When sitting, keep your head straight forward and don’t let it tilt down. Sit with your knees slightly lower than your hips. Keep both feet flat on the floor.
  • When standing, keep your shoulders back and aligned. Wear quality shoes for support and slightly bend your knees lessen pressure.
  • When sleeping, use pillows to minimize spinal curves. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs for better support.

If you’re suffering from shoulder impingement, a physiotherapist can be a lifesaver. A physiotherapist will use both passive and active modalities to treat shoulder impingement. Hands-on treatment and stretching exercises will be used to help restore range of motion and shoulder biomechanics. Heat and ice and ultrasound may be used to enhance healing, reduce inflammation and lessen pain. Generally, it may take four to six weeks to get full function back. A physiotherapist will also assess your workstation and what activities you do. They will suggest changes to avoid further problems.

If you are struggling with pain due to shoulder impingement, please contact NRG Atheletes Therapy Fitness today. We’ll get you on the road to recovery.


Poor Posture Can Lead to Shoulder Impingement

In most areas of the body, bone is surrounded by muscles and tendons that allow that part of the body to move.  The shoulder is different.  It is actually made up of three bones – the humerus or arm bone, the scapula or shoulder blade, and the clavicle or collarbone.  Rather than being “wrapped” in tendon and muscle, these three bones are attached by a series of muscles and tendons called a rotator cuff.  There is a lubricating sac at the top of your arm bone called the bursa that allows the rotator cuff to move freely when you move your arm.  If the rotator cuff tendons become damaged or if the bursa becomes inflamed, the result can be significant pain in the shoulder.  However, when you raise your arm to shoulder-height, the space between the rotator cuff and the bone at the top of your shoulder (the acromion) narrows.  The acromion can rub against the tendon or bursa leading to shoulder impingement.

Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement

Often times people who suffer with shoulder impingement find that they have a hard time lifting their arm above their head.  This can take the form of being unable to lift something overhead or having trouble putting on a coat.  If left untreated, shoulder impingement wears down the tendons or bursa in the shoulder, causing a tear to occur in the rotator cuff often requiring surgery to repair it.

What Causes Shoulder Impingement

Generally, shoulder impingement is caused by overhead repetitive motions.  Swimmers, tennis players, construction workers, painters, or athletes like baseball players and weight lifters are all susceptible to shoulder impingement.  However, athletes are not the only ones that find themselves unable to lift their arm over their head without pain.  Shoulder impingement is caused by the shortening of the space between the acromion and the rotator cuff.  Poor posture caused by our daily habits can also shorten that space.  The postures we have while reading, working, texting, driving, cooking, or exercising can all have an impact on the amount of subacromion space we have in our shoulders.  

How to Treat Shoulder Impingement From Poor Posture

Regardless of the cause, the first goal is to reduce the inflammation in the joint.  This may be done through anti-inflammatory medications and the application of ice when pain occurs.  Once inflammation has been reduced, the best way to get rid of shoulder impingement is to see a physiotherapist.  Not only will they be able to perform a thorough physical examination to rule out other underlying causes, they will be able to create a customized treatment plan designed for you.  Treatment is likely to include avoiding repetitive, overhead motions for a time, but it will also include stretches to reduce the impingement and strengthening exercises to prevent it from recurring.

In the case of shoulder impingement from poor posture, a physiotherapist is also likely to recommend adjustments to improve your posture.  Making sure you have an ergonomic workspace, improving your posture while doing daily tasks, and stretching appropriately throughout the day will all treat the underlying cause of your shoulder impingement and keep it from returning.

Whether from poor posture or from repetitive tasks, shoulder impingement is not something to be taken lightly.  If you are experiencing pain when you move your arms overhead, talk to your physiotherapist.  The sooner the condition is treated, the more successful the treatment will be.