Shoulder pain is one of the most common complaints seen in the clinic.  Most people will experience a shoulder pain at some point.  Shoulder pain, untreated, is 50% likely to not resolve on its own and can lead to further problems like neck and back pain and degeneration of the shoulder joints and muscles.

The main reason for this is that the shoulder is involved in almost everything we do, it is highly mobile and complex and therefore highly prone to injury and not easily allowed to recover once injured.

But, in spite of this, it is usually quite easy to treat. Because of the same reasons it can easily be injured it can easily be manipulated to encourage healing and repair.


Some common causes of shoulder pain are:

Rotator cuff tendonitis or tear is characterised by pain on the outside of the shoulder especially when raising the arm. It is often the result of repetitive overuse of a shoulder in an unnatural position, e.g. overhead or slumped forward – so even can be the result of static computer postures.

Sub acromial impingement, tendonitis or bursitis. Is similar in presentation to rotator cuff problems and, in my opinion, is mostly caused by slouched postures or over poor exercise technique.

Frozen Shoulder or adhesive capsulitis is often over diagnosed when actually one of the 2 above problems exist. It is a gradual stiffening of the shoulder over several weeks. It can become very stiff and painful in all positions. True frozen shoulder is a self-limiting condition (meaning it will get better on its own) which may take over a year to full resolve. Treatment should be able to speed this up to only a couple of months.

Osteoarthritis of the acromioclavicular joint is common. See the page on osteoarthritis for more info.

Pain in the shoulder is often referred from another area of the body like the neck or upper back.  Treatment of shoulder pain, whether referred or not will always include treatment to the neck, arm, upper back and ribs.  Because of the nature of the shoulder mechanics treatment will also often involve the pelvis and lower limb.