Shoulder Injuries

Labral Tear

The labrum is soft tissue that surrounds the shoulder socket to provide stability and it deepens the socket so the arm fits in nicely.  A tear can result from falling on an outstretched arm, a direct contact hit to the shoulder, overreaching or a sudden pull in the shoulder.  Symptoms include pain, usually when reaching overhead, sensation of instability in the shoulder, decreased range of motion and loss of strength.

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If surgery is needed, physical therapy will work on motion and flexibility exercises and then engage in strengthening exercises.

Shoulder Instability

Once the shoulder is dislocated out of its socket, it is usually unstable.  The joint can become loose and the shoulder can often slip out of the socket.  The causes are the initial dislocation as well as repetitive strain on the shoulder joint from activities that typically overuse the shoulder such as swimming or tennis.  Symptoms include shoulder pain, repeated dislocations and feelings of the shoulder “giving out”.

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The key for treatment is strengthening the shoulder muscles and working on shoulder control to increase stability.

Shoulder Tendonitis

The shoulder is made up of three bones that are connected and stabilized by the rotator cuff.  Irritation of the tendons that form the rotator cuff are responsible for this condition.  Usually this is caused by overuse of the shoulder, especially in overhead motions.  Symptoms include pain present during activity and rest, pain radiating from the shoulder down the arm, sudden pain with lifting, and eventual loss of strength and motion.

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Physical therapy will initially focus on getting full motion back in the shoulder by doing stretching exercises.  After motion is restored, strengthening exercises will be used to build up the rotator cuff muscles.

Impingement Syndrome

The shoulder is made up of three bones that are connected and stabilized by the rotator cuff.  Impingement occurs when the arm is raised above shoulder level and the space between one of the bones and cuff narrows causing rubbing within the point.  This “impingement” causes pain and irritation.  The main symptom for this condition is the pain from the rubbing.

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In physical therapy, range of motion will be focused on as a mechanism to reduce the pain and then the goal will be to strengthen the muscles of the rotator cuff.