Shoulder Pain - Diagnosis and Treatment

The shoulder is a complex joint with a large range of motion in all directions. Shoulder pain is a common issue that can range from an annoying niggle during everyday use to horrible, sudden pain preventing movement, function and sleep.

The shoulder is an integral part of our upper limb and when pain can seriously affect work, sport and activities of daily living. It is therefore vital that pain in the shoulder is correctly diagnosed and treated to ensure you get back to your usual function as quickly as possible.

How Common is Pain in the Shoulder?

In Australia:

  • 67% of people will have it at some stage in their life
  • 22% of the population is affected by it at any given time
  • 79% go on to develop chronic symptoms

Causes of Shoulder Pain

It can generally be broken down into two categories: traumatic (due to an injury) or non-traumatic (insidious onset - out of the blue). Younger people tend to be affected more by traumatic shoulder pain whereas the older population tend to slowly develop shoulder pain with no specific injury.

The most common causes of these two categories are listed below:

1. Traumatic causes:

  • Dislocation or subluxation
  • Acromioclavicular joint sprain
  • Fracture
  • Labral tears

2. Non-traumatic causes:

  • Tendinopathy of the rotator cuff or bicep muscles
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Calcific tendinopathy
  • Osteoarthritis (glenohumeral or acromioclavicular joint)
  • Referred pain from the neck
  • Parsonage-Turner syndrome
shoulder pain
shoulder pain x ray

Physiotherapy treatment for shoulder pain

There are many ways to treat a painful shoulder.

Treatment will be specifically tailored depending upon the presentation. This may include combinations of the following:

  • Pain management and load optimisation
  • Strengthening
  • Range of motion and stretching
  • Proprioceptive exercises
  • Education
  • Activity and lifestyle modification
  • Hands-on treatment
  • Taping or strapping

Book an appointment with our PridePlus Health physiotherapists in Pascoe Vale for a correct diagnosis and treatment.