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Man experiencing shoulder pain with illustrations

Treatment for Shoulder Pain

Shoulder injuries are very common. Your shoulder is one of your most mobile joints and due to the small joint contact zone, it is not as mechanically robust and stable as other joints in the body. The muscles of the shoulder are very important for normal functioning and shoulder pain can often be due to the muscles not being strong enough.

The majority of shoulder pain is due to one of the following problems:

  • Bursitis shoulder
  • Rotator cuff problems
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Dislocation
  • Arthritis
  • Fractures

Bursitis Shoulder

Bursitis shoulder is due to an inflamed shoulder bursa. The bursa is the fluid-filled sac which helps to reduce friction in the joints. There are several bursae in the shoulders and inflammation can cause pain which may spread down the arm, painful movement and pain when raising the arms.

Rotator Cuff Syndrome

This is a very common shoulder injury due to the instability of the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff is a small group of four muscles that control the shoulder joint. These muscles are responsible for shoulder rotation. The rotator cuff is susceptible to tears, tendonitis, impingement and injuries.

Frozen shoulder

A frozen shoulder is due to inflammation which limits shoulder movement. A frozen shoulder can result in severe pain, stiffness and loss of shoulder function. A frozen shoulder is often confused with a rotator cuff injury but can be easily differentiated by your physiotherapist.


A dislocated shoulder happens when the ball of the upper arm is forced out of its normal position in the shoulder socket. This causes extreme pain and the inability to move your arm until it is placed back into the socket.


Shoulder arthritis is common in older adults. Due to everyday wear and tear, the chances of shoulder arthritis are more likely in those who have injured or overused the joint. Exercise is a great way to reduce the chances of shoulder arthritis as well as to reduce symptoms.


Often a fracture occurs in the humerus of the upper arm between the shoulder and the elbow. When a fracture occurs near the ball of your shoulder joint, this is known as a ‘broken shoulder’.

Repetitive Activities

Overuse of your shoulder can place strain on your joints. It is best to minimise repetitive activities that involve the shoulder or take regular rest breaks. Some common activities that can put strain on the shoulder joints include painting, hammering, lifting, tennis serving and other repetitive sports.

Shoulder Pain Treatment

Shoulder physio is often a successful treatment for shoulder pain and there are a range of options available. Shoulder therapy treatment options will depend on the cause of your shoulder pain which can be determined by your physiotherapist. Your physiotherapist will then explain to you what the best course of action is to achieve recovery.

The shoulder joints are one of the most flexible joints in the body, however, are also one of the most unstable. The shoulder joints are vulnerable to pain which can result from overuse, injuries, arthritis and inflammation. If you have shoulder pain or other shoulder problems, it is best to get an assessment as early as possible. The sooner you start treatment the sooner you will be back to everything you enjoy.

Director & Senior Physiotherapist at Integrity Physiotherapy, Leslie Trigg, has over 13 years of experience in clinical practice. He has graduated with a degree in Human Biology (Anatomy and Physiology) from Curtin University in 2001 and later completed a Masters of Physiotherapy in 2007. He has tremendous experience in musculoskeletal, orthopaedic, neurosurgical and sports physiotherapy. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, listening to music and spending time with his family.