Chronic Shoulder Pain: How Physiotherapy Can Provide Relief and Rehabilitation

Chronic Shoulder Pain: How Physiotherapy Can Provide Relief and Rehabilitation

Shoulder injuries, whether from sudden trauma or the gradual wear of aging, can lead to conditions like tendonitis, affecting individuals engaged in repetitive physical activities. This article explores effective treatments for shoulder pain, focusing on the role of physiotherapy in rehabilitation. Physiotherapists employ a range of techniques including exercises, stretches, and hands-on therapies to strengthen muscles, improve range of motion, and alleviate pain and inflammation. By understanding these therapeutic approaches and their benefits, individuals can better manage shoulder injuries and enhance their overall quality of life.

Physical Therapy

Using a combination of exercises, stretches, and hands-on techniques, physical therapy promotes healing and alleviates shoulder pain. It also improves overall function by boosting strength and flexibility, which can prevent future injuries.

Accurate diagnosis is essential for designing an effective treatment plan. Physiotherapists perform thorough physical examinations to assess your shoulder’s range of motion, stability, and mobility. They can also use imaging tests like X-rays or MRI to identify the source of your shoulder pain.

Throughout the course of physical therapy, your therapist will recommend exercises and stretches that target your specific needs. They may also suggest adjustments to your work environment or daily habits, which can help reduce shoulder stress. In addition, your therapist may perform manual therapy like soft tissue massage or joint mobilisation to alleviate shoulder stiffness and improve function. Consistency is crucial, as attending regularly scheduled physiotherapy sessions will accelerate the recovery process.

Medications

The first step in treating shoulder pain is accurately diagnosing the cause. Your doctor will examine your shoulder and may suggest diagnostic tests, such as X-rays or an MRI, to get a detailed picture of the structures in your shoulder.

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Medications are often used to relieve shoulder pain. For mild pain, you can try topical creams or gels with 10% menthol (Icy Hot or BenGay). If these don’t work, over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium can reduce inflammation and pain. Talk to your doctor before taking NSAIDs if you have kidney disease or are taking blood thinners.

Inflammation and damage to the shoulder joint can lead to chronic pain and stiffness. Arthritis — such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis — can cause these symptoms by degrading the cartilage in the joint or by inflaming the tissues around the joint. Another common condition that causes chronic shoulder pain is tendinitis, which occurs when the tendons in the shoulder become inflamed.

Surgery

Many patients with chronic shoulder pain, even those with a severe injury, can recover using conservative treatments. These can include a combination of rest, physiotherapy and pain relief medication.

But in some cases, surgery may be needed. For example, if the pain comes from a tear in the shoulder’s rotator cuff — the group of muscles and tendons that creates a kind of cap over the joint — surgery may be needed to repair it.

In addition, if the pain is caused by a pinched nerve, surgery can be helpful. The procedure involves removing the pressure on the nerve.

In some instances, doctors will also perform keyhole surgery to treat a condition known as subacromial bursitis. This condition is caused when a small sac of fluid forms around the shoulder joint, making it difficult to raise the arm overhead. It’s not clear why this condition happens, but it may be due to age-related muscle and tendon problems or from a ragged piece of bone (called a bone spur) rubbing against the shoulder capsule.

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Home Exercises

Your physiotherapist will provide you with a home exercise program that begins with stretches to reduce your shoulder’s limited range of motion. As you improve, the intensity of these exercises may increase. However, your therapist will caution you to not push yourself too hard.

Physiotherapy also uses hands-on techniques to promote healing and improve physical function. This can include soft tissue manipulation, joint mobilisation, and trigger point therapy. These techniques help manage pain, reduce stiffness, and enhance mobility in the shoulder.

Physiotherapy is a proven treatment for chronic shoulder pain and may be combined with other treatments, including medications and surgery. Be sure to schedule an appointment with your physical therapist as soon as you notice shoulder pain. This can prevent your condition from worsening and maximise your chances of a full recovery.

For those suffering from chronic shoulder pain, physiotherapy offers a comprehensive approach to recovery and rehabilitation. Through targeted exercises, hands-on therapies, and expert guidance, physiotherapists help strengthen muscles, improve range of motion, and alleviate pain, enhancing overall quality of life. If you’re experiencing shoulder discomfort, consider booking an appointment with Excel Body and Health at excelbodyandhealth.com.au to start your journey toward pain relief and restored mobility today.

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