Shoulder problems are the second most common thing our physiotherapists see in the clinic, after back pain.
As Joni Mitchell said, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” and this is certainly true of the shoulder – unless you get a shoulder injury, you have no idea how much you use your shoulder – my shoulder muscles are working even as I’m typing this.
Conditions such as frozen shoulder and rotator cuff injuries are pthe post common form of shoulder pain that we see.
Frozen shoulder is a very painful condition that is more common in women than men, and occurs more often in the 50-70yrs age bracket. It has what we call a “natural history” – meaning that it eventually runs its course, but it can last anything from a few months to a couple of years, and varies greatly in how severe it is from person to person – in some it can be barely noticeable, for others it is very debilitating.
From our physiotherapists perspective, we basically see two types of frozen shoulder – the kind we can help, and the kind that needs further medical help at that point in time, such as requiring a steroid injection, with physiotherapy to follow at a later stage. We’re usually pretty quick to tell you if we feel you need the latter, but many frozen shoulders respond really well to physiotherapy.
Rotator cuff injuries can happen suddenly, such as from a fall, or gradually develop over time. They need a proper assessment by your physiotherapist, as what exactly is wrong and how we treat them can vary greatly, depending on the problem (the shoulder is a pretty useful, but complicated joint!). Tendonitis can happen as an overuse/repetitive strain injury, and if caught early can settle down quite quickly. The longer they go on, the long they generally take to get better, but all rotator cuff injuries are very treatable with physiotherapy (physio has the same long-term success rate as surgery for rotator cuff injuries!).