The shoulder is a complex joint that is prone to dislocation, making shoulder injuries one of the most common experienced injuries. The problem is that when you recover from a shoulder injury, you can’t always be guaranteed that the pain will go away. For many, the most severe shoulder pain doesn’t occur at the time of the injury itself, but instead happens later, as you recover from your injury and find that your movement is limited, your strength is weakened, and your ability to withstand future injury tenuous at best. Often just as frustrating as the actual pain of the injury is the knowledge that injury can happen again at almost any turn.
Shoulder injuries often happen in the flukiest of situations. While athletes and laborers are more prone to experiencing shoulder injuries due to the repetitive movements of their professional careers, coupled with the frequency of carrying heavy weight, absolutely anyone can experience a shoulder injury.
The most common forms of shoulder injury include:
- Strain / Sprain
- Tear or damage to rotator cuff
- Tissue, ligament or tendon tear (including torn labrum)
Dislocation and impingement are the most common forms of shoulder injury, and both are often accompanied by a series of tears or sprains to the tendons and tissues that support the shoulder joint. Once those tendon’s and tissues are damaged they are more likely to experience further injury in the future, essentially meaning that once you dislocate your shoulder once it is way more likely to happen again, and again, and again. Every time being painful. Every time requiring recovery. Every time leaving an increased threat of it happening yet again.
Making the Pain Go Away
However, there are ways to overcome shoulder pain for good and to reduce your risk of future shoulder injury, thereby making it possible to move your shoulders freely and without pain. Surgical treatment is available for the correction of damage to tendons and tissues in the shoulder. In many situations, especially where shoulder injuries are becoming frequent or pain becomes chronic, surgery is necessary to repair any tears to the supporting tissues, tendons and ligaments.
Surgical intervention is often recommended in the case of damaged rotator cuffs and torn labrums. While the surgical intervention is designed to repair permanent damage in the shoulder, surgery on its own cannot strengthen the shoulder’s muscles in a way that will protect you from future injury. Only physical therapy can do that.
Physical therapy helps reduce shoulder pain by:
- Targeting and strengthening muscles
- Introducing appropriate exercises
- Stretching muscles
- Improving range of motion
Using physical therapy to target particular muscle groups in strategic ways can help prevent future injury and reduce pain, allowing you to gain freedom of movement in your shoulder. Working with a physical therapist, you will be guided through a complex series of exercises that are designed to strengthen your shoulder, forming improved muscle mass that reduces the risk of dislocation or impingement. These exercises will target a series of muscle groups across the upper body, including the deltoids and subscapularis in the shoulders, the trapezius and rhomboid in the upper back, and the biceps and triceps in the upper arms.
Each of these muscle groups is targeted through a series of targeted activities that are designed to put just the right amount of pressure and motion on the shoulder, with each activity modified to be appropriate for your personal needs. You can only gain this sort of specialized treatment through a PT session with a licensed physical therapist. Doing these sorts of exercises under the guidance of a physical therapist and then taking those exercises home with you and practicing those activities night after night is the only way to strengthen your shoulders and reduce should pain for good.
Always consult your physical therapist or physician before starting exercises you are unsure of doing.