How Does a Physical Therapist Help Shoulder Pain And Rotator Cuff Injuries?

How can physical therapy help with shoulder pain?

If your doctor recommends physical therapy, your therapist will examine your strength and range of motion, check your functional abilities (like reaching up and behind your back), ask for your goals, and then come up with a personalized treatment plan to relieve your shoulder pain and restore your mobility.

Physical therapy for shoulder pain may include: stretching, strengthening, joint mobilization/stabilization. Heat, ice, ultrasound, electrical stimulation or athletic taping may also be part of your physical therapy program.

Your physical therapist can also give advice on activity modification and work-place ergonomics. Your physical therapist will also work with you to develop a comprehensive home exercise program that will help you maintain your quality of life beyond your therapy sessions.

What is the rotator cuff?

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, allowing the shoulder to move while keeping it stable. Mobility and stability are needed for day-to-day activities, but they are extremely critical for athletes who put a lot of stress on their shoulders.

What causes a rotator cuff injury?

While athletes are often known to have injured their rotator cuffs, anyone who repeatedly performs overhead movements during their work or during the day is susceptible to rotator cuff injuries such as painters, electricians, and carpenters. The risk of injury to the rotator cuff also increases as you get older.

The majority of rotator cuff injuries fall into one of these three categories: tendinitis, bursitis, and strains/tears.

  • Tendinitis is caused by the overuse of the rotator cuff, which causes it to become inflamed. This often happens to those who have to get overhead often to do their job.
  • Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that sits between the tendons of the rotator cuff and the shoulder bones.
  • Rotator cuff strains and tears are caused by overuse or acute injury, such as a fall, car accident, sports, or other sudden injury. These types of injuries usually cause severe pain.

What role does physical therapy play in injury to the rotator cuff?

While physical therapy itself cannot cure a torn rotator cuff tendon, it does strengthen the muscles of the shoulder and restore the mechanics of the shoulder. By strengthening all surrounding muscles, therapy can help to compensate for damaged tendons and improve the mechanics of the shoulder joint. It is also important for your physical therapist to focus on scapular strengthening, just as the scapula (the shoulder blade) provides the foundation for shoulder stability.

Physical therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment option for rotary cuff injuries. Here at Advanced Kinetics, we provide patients with an individualized treatment plan that includes exercises to improve the strength and control of the rotator cuff and scapular muscles. Your physical therapist will work with you to help you retrain these muscles to keep everything in place while you’re using your shoulder to bring back your range of motion.

In the ideal world, physical therapy for rotator cuff injury involves reducing pain; restoring motion, posture training, and body mechanics; and reconditioning your shoulder so that you can go back to life and use your shoulder as you did before.

Are You Looking for a Physical Therapist Near San Jose You Can Trust?

Pace Physical Therapy in San Jose, California specializes in non-surgical neck pain relief and recovery therapies.  We pride ourselves on offering the best possible physical therapy available and going above and beyond for our patients. Our highly experienced physical therapist will work with you to improve your function and relieve your pain. We start by assessing the body as a whole. Oftentimes the cause of pain or an injury extends far beyond just the body part or muscle hurting. Without taking a comprehensive look at your entire self, we would be doing you a disservice in fully helping you heal and preventing future limitations. We then move on to fixing your areas of limitation.  Not all diagnoses are created equal. One person with neck pain may have completely different limitations than the next person. Your recovery program needs to be specific to what YOUR body needs and not just the typical exercise program that you can find online. Just because your pain decreases or you can walk longer doesn’t mean that it is enough to get you functioning at the level you want to be. While this often signifies the end of care at your typical PT clinic we don’t stop providing guidance until we help you successfully meet every goal you set for yourself with us on day one. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!