The shoulder is a multifaceted joint. It’s a grouping of bones, tendons and muscles. It’s one of the most mobile areas of the body.
That means that it’s also one of the places in the body where you’re likely to feel pain.
The bones of the upper arm, shoulder blade and collar come together at the shoulder joint. The shoulder is involved in movement at the front, back and side of your body.
The rotator cuff is the combination of muscles that keeps your upper arm inside the shoulder socket. Because the rotator cuff is affected when you move your chest, arm and back, it can be vulnerable to harm. Problems with the rotator cuff are some of the most common causes of shoulder pain.
A painful shoulder can be caused by a direct injury or repetitive motion. It can also be caused by poor posture.
Tendons connect muscles to the bones. As you go through your life, the tendon can wear out. Picture the way that a shoe’s sole becomes thinner and more delicate as it’s worn. When this happens around a joint, it can produce soreness.
There are a few different tendons within the rotator cuff. They are prone to developing tendonitis.
The inflammation can happen suddenly. However, it is also likely to happen over the course of several years or a lifetime.
Tendons can also develop painful tears. If the tears are large enough, the tissue can detach from the bone.
Bursitis is a type of swelling that develops near the tendon. Bursae are pouches that work like pillows to make the muscles and bones in a joint to glide freely. When the bursae become inflamed, they make everything that touches them hurt.
If you have tendonitis, you may be tempted to keep the area completely still. While rest is important, maintaining mobility is crucial. A physical therapist can show you the best exercises to do to prevent the shoulder from locking up without injuring it further.
Gentle pendulum exercises can be used initially. As the pain and inflammation subside, you can work up to more intense activities that expand your scale of mobility and increase strength in the muscles.
Impingement and Instability
The shoulder blade is quite bony and may rub the softer tissue as you move your upper body. This issue, called impingement, can bring about tendonitis.
Instability happens when a bone is dislodged from the socket. It can result in full or partial shoulder dislocation. If the soft matter surrounding the joint is damaged or worn, it might not hold the bone in place as well.
A physical therapist can help you work on your posture to decrease pinching caused by impingement. The therapist may also help you avoid movements that make the problem worse and practice alternative movements to help you retain full function of the joint.
The surrounding tissue is affected when a bone breaks. If this occurs, a physical therapist can help you learn how to stay mobile while encouraging the area to heal. You’ll perform range-of-motion movements and training to make the muscles surrounding the shoulder stronger. Eventually, you may undergo functional training to learn how to maintain optimal function while reducing your risk of hurting yourself again.