Shoulder pain is the third most common musculoskeletal complaint after back and neck pain. Shoulder pain can be caused by a variety of conditions including frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis), shoulder impingement syndrome (damage to the tendons within the shoulder joint complex) and muscle imbalance. Shoulder pain is defined as chronic if it has been present for 3 months of more. It is often left untreated, treated with pain killers or treated through other home remedies such as applying heat, ice or self-massage.
Living with shoulder pain can have a big impact on quality of life due to reduced range of movement, sleep disturbance, inability to perform daily tasks and reduced movement in other areas of the body including the neck.
So, what is the best way to treat chronic shoulder pain? The research states that exercise is the most effective way to reduce pain and restore functionality in chronic shoulder injuries as it is associated with the least negative side effects.
What does the research say specifically?
- The choice of exercise should be specific to the shoulder- for example, it was not found that walking was beneficial for improving chronic shoulder pain.
- A combination of specific stretching, strengthening and range of motion exercises deliver the most superior results
- The selection of exercises should be based upon the findings of a clinical assessment to ensure the right areas of the shoulder are being worked on
- Exercise was found to be more effective at restoring function than surgery which means that anyone suffering from reduced range should partake in a structure exercise regime first before considering surgery
- Exercise was found to be superior to manual therapies such as massage for reducing pain and restoring function however exercise and manual therapy combined had the biggest impact upon pain and functionality.
- Steroid injections should only be used as a last resort after trying other methods such as exercise which carry less side effects.
This might sound complicated – I am sure you are thinking “How on earth do I apply this to my problem?”
You have a few options; you could book in for an assessment with a sports therapist, get your shoulder assessed and get some advice on what exercises to perform. Or, if you are ready to take charge of your injury and commit to 3 hours per week, then our Pain Free Program is the one for you. We take all the latest evidence and the results from your assessment to create a specific exercise regime for you to complete in our gym with the assistance of our qualified exercise professionals. If you are interested in finding out more about our pain free program, then message us today.