All About Shoulder Pain: Causes and Symptoms

If you have pain in shoulder, it can be the result of many causes. However, the common causes of it are an injury of the rotator cuff or soreness of the subacromial bursa. This is a sac of fluid under the high part of the shoulder. Other causes of shoulder pain include bony abnormalities, injuries, osteoarthritis and thickening of the ligaments in the shoulder area. There may be soreness after playing a sport or lifting items. Sports enthusiasts often incur shoulder pain due to repetitive motions. Just about anything that requires you to lift the arms can cause pain or soreness. Shoulder pain can be enough to keep you up at night.

The Rotator Cuff: What It Is

The primary joint in the shoulder is formed by the shoulder blade and arm bone. It’s the joint socket that allows a wide range of motion. The rotator cuff itself is comprised of four muscles, which surround the arm bone. It keeps the shoulder steady when the arm is in motion. The rotator cuff can even be torn. The supraspinatus muscle sits on the shoulder top, and its tendon extends under the outside of the shoulder bone. Because of its location between bones, it’s a common injury. The tendon can become sore and swollen when it gets pinched between the bones. The subacromial bursa sac can also get damaged.

Frozen Shoulder: How It’s Caused

Frozen shoulder is another name for adhesive capsulitis. It’s a shoulder condition that limits the range of motion. It can be caused by long periods of inactivity, diabetes or surgery. Scar tissue may even form. As a result, the shoulder joint does not have proper space to rotate normally. Symptoms typically include stiffness, pain or swelling in the shoulder. Gradually, the ability to move the shoulder becomes less and less. Reaching for an item may even become impossible.

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Physical therapy is a common and effective treatment for pain in the shoulder and shoulder rotator cuff pain. It’s also a non-invasive form of treatment. A physical therapist will perform a comprehensive exam along with an evaluation that includes strength and motion tests and check for any weakness in the shoulder. X-rays may also be taken to identify other conditions, such as arthritis. X-rays are a tool that helps determine the root cause of shoulder pain.
Physical therapy services may include manual therapy, range-of-motion exercises, functional training, soft tissue massage and strengthening exercises.

Manual techniques may include therapeutic modalities like ultrasound and iontophoresis. Depending on the type of shoulder injury and the extent of the injury, physical therapy may be needed for months. Physical therapists also help to educate patients on how to improve posture, improve gait and avoid future injury to the shoulder. Often, patients are given a home exercise program for lifelong protection and health of the shoulders.

The goal of a physical therapist is to provide shoulder pain relief, improve range of motion, improve flexibility and improve daily functionality. For more information, Contact us today.

Shoulder Pain

The shoulder joint is subject to a great deal of motion, more so than other large joints in the body. Once joint healing is complete, we put you through a routine of specialized exercises and therapies to help you regain strength, stability, and functionality. Give us a call to discover how physical therapy can help heal your shoulder and every joint in your body. We look forward to hearing from you!

Therapies used to treat the shoulder:

  • E-Stim – Used to improve muscle and ligament tone. This is a useful method to control pain and inflammation.
  • ASTYM 
  • Heat and/or Ice
  • Manual stretching by the physical therapist
  • Active exercises focused on strengthening the surrounding muscles
  • Stretching exercises to regain full range of motion

Multi-dimensional instability of the shoulder must be evaluated carefully to determine the best course of treatment. As your physical therapists, we will do everything possible to relieve your pain, prevent further damage, and provide the rehabilitation framework to help you recover quickly.

Wrist pain occurs for a variety of reasons, ranging from over use to fractures and falls. Our therapy team is fully equipped to handle all your needs to get you back to your daily activities. 

Carpal Tunnel is a major cause of wrist pain and can occur from repetitive over use, poor posture, faulty work equipment and for many other reasons.  Physical Therapists can show you stretches and customize treatment for your needs.  Read more about ASTYM treatment and how it can help you with carpal tunnel and wrist pain.

Feel free to give us a call to ask questions or to set up a free 15 minute consultation to see if Physical Therapy is right for you!


Learn more about the services that we offer at Idaho Spine and Sports Physical Therapy

Idaho Spine and Sports Physical Therapy


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“Before coming into Physical Therapy there were days I couldn’t even lift either of my arms up from the pain. Coming to PT has improved my quality of life so much! I no longer have the pain I once had in my shoulders and can go from day to day without being in pain. Everyone at Idaho Spine & Sports Physical Therapy are so welcoming & beyond helpful through every step of the way! I will definitely be recommending them to anyone needing physical therapy! You’re all awesome! Thank you so much for helping to get my pain under control!”

– Kaitlyn Rink

“I came in with a torn rotator cuff, unable to move my right arm without extreme pain.  Everyone here made me feel right at home and as my therapy progressed I regained movement in my arm.  I am now nearly pain free and back to living my life fully!  The staff at Idaho Spine and Sports Physical Therapy are excellent, courteous, and professional.  I would highly recommend them to anyone.”

-Katie Anderson Elmer

“I came in with very limited range of motion in my right wrist.  Todd, Alex, and Lauren worked with me to improve my abilities.  Pushed me, motivated me and encouraged me.  I’m very grateful for the knowledge they all shared with me.  I feel with the tools they have given me I will continue to improve.  I will recommend Idaho Spine and Sports Physical Therapy to anyone that requires PT.  Thank you all so much!”


“I have had a great experience with my therapy at Idaho Spine and Sports Physical Therapy.  My condition upon arriving was very limited use of my right shoulder and neck.  I am now able to have full rotation and use of my right shoulder without pain.  I have been greatly helped and would recommend others to come to ISSPT.”

-Margaret Gee

“My condition before coming to Idaho Spine and Sports Physical Therapy is:  I could hardly use my left hand.  I handled my left hand as if it was abnormal, always holding in front of my tummy.  It was critical to go to a therapist especially if the therapist (Brian) was so good.  I feel good now.  I recommend 100% that people go to ISSPT!  Thank you to all the nice employees!”

-Irene Berntsen

“I had shoulder surgery December 2015 and started physical therapy at ISSPT with Jeff 2 months later.  My internal rotation was severely limited.  I was not able to put my arm behind my back or reach around my body.  The sessions with Jeff immediately showed improvement in my mobility.  Jeff was able to stretch and improve mobility in my shoulder in addition to using ASTYM technique to reduce scar tissue.  Further working with Kevin, Jeff’s assistant, for specific exercises to strengthen the muscles in my shoulder aided in the improvement of my shoulder overall.  I am extremely pleased with my therapy and the results I am seeing.  I have been able to workout again in my crossfit gym as well as compete in the Spartan Obstacle Race.  Than you Jeff and Kevin for all your hard work and dedication to my therapy!

-Shane Cole

“I had a shoulder rotator cuff injury on my right shoulder.  This condition limited me on my daily activities.  I took my physical therapy very seriously and followed the guidance of my therapists.  After 7 weeks (2 sessions per week) my injury is significantly better.  My PT program worked and I feel great!  The entire staff is excellent!  They all are friendly, courteous, professional, and prompt.  I will miss seeing them all.  This was a great experience and I will absolutely recommend Idaho Spine and Sports Physical Therapy to anyone needing help.”

-Ronnie Kauffman

“Very limited use of shoulder when I arrived due to a fall.  I had no range of motion.  2. I’m fixed now!  Still need to work at home. 3. Great people- make exercise and physical therapy somewhat fun.  Still hard work though.  Tips: Do hard work and have lots of patience!  There were times I wanted to quit because of no progress.  I’m glad I stuck with it.  Very encouraging people at Idaho Spine and Sports.  People are great here,especially Alex, Jeff & Todd!” 

-Roberta Hurtt

“I was very reluctant to do physical therapy because I was in a lot of pain.  Alex listened to me and reassured me throughout this process.  I felt informed about the process the whole way, even when I had a minor set back.  After 15 sessions and the expertise of both Alex and Todd, I feel confident that my shoulder is considerably better and with home exercise, my strength will return.  I can thank Alex & Todd enough!  They are a great team!” 

-Gabrielle Cole

“Before physical therapy, I was suffering from pain in my left shoulder. It was difficult to even lift my left arm to get an object down from a shelf above my head. Physical therapy has made me realize just how important intelligent, controlled movement is as you age. Because of the skilled therapists and their intelligent, concerned actions, I have regained most of the mobility in my left arm. I am sure the exercises the “crew” gave me will be a great benefit. I heartily recommend this clinic to anyone who is experiencing joint or muscle pain and is searching for a process to control or eliminate their pain.” 

-Carl Goodwin

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