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Our shoulders are real workhorses. Without realizing it, we expect a lot from them as we lift, hold, carry, press, and pull things during our daily activities. We may not think of our shoulders often, but they are very important to our overall strength and mobility. Your shoulder is not just a single joint, but consists of several joints that combine with muscles and tendons in a pulley system that provides rotation and stability. Connected to the shoulder are our neck, ribs, clavicle, humerus and the thoracic region of the spine. The shoulder can be dislocated, separated, or fractured which demands immediate medical attention. But some other causes of shoulder pain are much more common and include rotator cuff tendonitis, frozen shoulder, bursitis and biceps tendonitis. Shoulder pain can also be caused by repetitive motion overuse and arthritis.
The goal of seeing a physical therapist when you have shoulder pain is that it is a starting point to assessing your problem and then seek the proper treatment from a thorough evaluation. You will be asked about the nature of your pain and to show your range of motion. The goal of shoulder therapy is to restore your full range of motion and to learn exercises to strengthen your shoulder muscles. Initially, the PT performs medical massage and may recommend rest for a couple of days where you will apply ice to the shoulder to help speed healing and reduce inflammation. After this stage, your PT can recommend shoulder exercises to help you improve your range of motion and improve rotator cuff muscle strength. Lifestyle changes also may be in order and the PT will teach you how to find ways to do things like lifting and pulling, and how to carry objects safely without hurting yourself.