You likely don’t stop to think about how many times you move your shoulder every day until it starts to hurt. Then, even normal daily activities like reaching into a cabinet for your coffee cup, driving and carrying groceries become much more difficult.
If you’re dealing with shoulder pain, you shouldn’t wait to get help. Waiting makes it more likely that your pain will become worse or even become a chronic issue. Fortunately, physical therapy can help you address a wide range of shoulder pain causes and symptoms.
Causes of acute and chronic shoulder pain
Acute shoulder pain is often the result of minor injuries, and it typically lasts a few days to a few weeks. You’re most likely to be suffering from rotator cuff tendinitis if you’re feeling acute shoulder pain. This condition occurs when the rotator cuff tendons in your shoulder become irritated and inflamed. In most cases, this issue is triggered by repetitive shoulder movements, especially if you do a lot of reaching over your head.
However, there are other issues that may also be causing your acute pain, including:
- Poor posture.
- Muscle strains.
- Shoulder dislocations.
- Pinched nerves in the neck and shoulder.
There are also many people who develop shoulder issues that lead to chronic shoulder pain. If your shoulder pain has lasted more than 3 months then it is considered chronic. Some of the issues you may be dealing with if you have chronic shoulder pain are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Adhesive capsulitis aka frozen shoulder.
- Rotator cuff tears.
- Bone spurs.
Symptoms commonly associated with shoulder pain
All the causes above will lead to various levels of shoulder pain, but you’ll likely have other symptoms as well if you are feeling pain in your shoulder. Other symptoms that may accompany your shoulder pain include:
- Difficulty lifting your arm.
- Warmth or redness in your shoulder.
- A more limited range of motion in your shoulder.
- Muscle stiffness and weakness.
- Clicking, popping, or grinding sounds and sensations when moving your shoulder.
- Difficulty doing normal daily tasks.
Whether your pain and other symptoms are short-term or long-term, they and the issues that are causing them can be treated with specific treatments offered by our physical therapists.
Minor shoulder pain will often respond to rest, ice, compression and elevation, or R.I.C.E. treatment. In cases where your pain does not decrease after a few days or does not respond to at-home treatments, it’s time to think about seeking physical therapy. Physical therapists can pinpoint the cause of your shoulder pain and build a personalized treatment plan to treat both the pain and its underlying cause.
Treatments may include:
- Dry needling.
- Manual therapy.
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM).
- Therapeutic stretches.
- A personalized strengthening program.
Are you ready to partner with a physical therapist to reduce your shoulder pain? Find a location near you today to schedule an appointment or an initial free screening.