Share this

Why am I seeing so many patients with shoulder pain?

Why am I seeing so many patients with shoulder pain?

Jake has written this blog for us:


Why am I seeing so many patients with shoulder pain?

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint, although it is a very shallow socket with a large ball, imagine a golf ball sitting on a golf tee. It needs to be this way to allow for a greater range of movement but unfortunately the compromise for this is a reduced amount of stability. The shoulder therefore relies on a muscle group to help maintain its stability when moving: the rotator cuff. It is the only joint in the body that functions this way.

The rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles that join the shoulder blade to the head of the humerus (ball), with the aim of stabilising the ball and socket in the optimal position at all points during movement. Due to this, the rotator cuff can easily become overloaded and therefore injured.

When the rotator cuff becomes injured it is usually the tendon portion that is affected. Tendons do not have a very high blood supply, so when torn or irritated they usually exhibit no visual symptoms such as swelling or bruising. The down side to this is that with lower blood supply comes longer healing times. Unfortunately without intervention these injuries can continue for many months.

A thorough assessment and accurate diagnosis is needed for effective treatment of these injuries. The central focus of our treatment is load management – reduce the load that you are placing on the cuff temporarily to allow symptoms to settle, and then gradually increasing the load through guided exercises. With load to the tendon comes increased blood supply and therefore healing, and as a result the tendon can cope with increased demand. This treatment continues to progress until you can return to your normal daily activities without pain.

There are often other elements to our management of rotator cuff injuries and that will depend on each individual and the findings from each assessment.

If you have a shoulder injury or shoulder pain, do not delay – make an appointment for a physiotherapy assessment to give yourself the best chance of a quick and full recovery.