Solving the shoulder.
Shoulder pain and injuries are very common. Your shoulder is the most mobile joint in your
body. The reason for this abundance of movement is due to the tiny shoulder contact zone, with
the glenoid fossa (shoulder socket) covering only a quarter of the humeral head (ball). This
makes the joint quite unstable which is why your shoulder muscles are so important to a
normally functioning shoulder to help stabilise the shoulder joint.
Common conditions of the shoulder include:
– Rotator cuff tendinopathy or tears
– Shoulder dislocation (instability)
– Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder)
– Shoulder arthritis
Rotator cuff pathology
– The rotator cuff is a small group of four muscles that move and control your shoulder
joint. Individuals with a rotator cuff injury will often have a painful arc, pain with overhead
activities, lifting, reaching behind the back, sleeping on the affected side and pain at
– Shoulder bursitis is due to an inflamed shoulder bursa. The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that
is used as a cushion between tendon-bone and tendon-tendon to reduce the friction and
irritation between them as they move. There are several bursae in your shoulders and
inflammation of this bursa typically results in pain on the outside of your shoulder, pain
with overhead lifting or reaching activities, increased pain at night and pain may spread
down your arm towards the elbow or wrist.
– Refers to the inability to maintain the ball of the upper arm bone in its normal position in
the shoulder socket. A dislocated shoulder is where the ball of the upper arm bone is
forced fully out of position which is usually associated with extreme pain and the inability
to move your arm until it is placed back in the socket. Shoulder subluxation is a partial
shoulder dislocation when the shoulder joint comes out partially before relocating itself.
Symptoms of shoulder instability may include repeated instances of the shoulder giving
out, a persistent sensation of the shoulder feeling loose, or “slipping in and out” of the
joint, or apprehension to put your shoulder in certain positions.
Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder)
– Frozen shoulder is a gradual onset of pain and stiffness due to shoulder capsule
inflammation and fibrotic adhesions that limit your shoulder movement. Frozen shoulder
will usually have an insidious onset with a progressive increase in pain initially and later
a gradual decrease in active and passive glenohumeral joint range of motion. It is more
prevalent in women and commonly occurs in individuals 40-60 years of age. Individuals
will often have difficulty grooming, performing overhead activities, sleeping, and
particularly fastening items behind the back.
– Shoulder arthritis is a common source of shoulder pain in older adults. Everyday wear
and tear damages your shoulder joint and the chances of arthritis are more likely if you
have injured or overused your shoulder joint. Exercise is a great way to reduce the
incidence of shoulder arthritis as well as help control arthritic pain, strengthen muscles
and improve your joint and muscle flexibility.
– A fractured shoulder is most commonly a fractured humerus which is your upper arm
bone between your shoulder and elbow. The location of these fractures can impact your
treatment because of the bone attachment of your essential shoulder muscles. Your
physiotherapist will be able to explain what you should and shouldn’t do if you have a
fracture in a particular region where there is a muscular attachment.
If you would like more information about different shoulder injuries or you are currently
struggling with shoulder pain, feel free to make a booking today
Eliza with patient assessing shoulder range of movement
Written by Eliza Osborn who works from the Physio Plus Footscray clinic.