Physical Therapy for Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is a fairly common problem that stems from various underlying causes. Severe shoulder pain can lead to immobility in the shoulder joint and your arm movement. This, in turn, has a drastic impact on the quality of your life. We strongly recommend that you consult one of our physical therapists Dan, Michael, or Diana, to schedule an appointment for specialized shoulder pain treatment at Specialized Physical Therapy.

The shoulder comprises of three bones– the humerus (upper arm), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the clavicle (collarbone). The head of the humerus fits inside the glenoid, a shallow socket in the scapula. The resilient ligaments around the shoulder joint ensure the ball remains in the socket. The tendons and ligaments in this area are collectively called the rotator cuff.  The rotator cuff’s primary function is to support your arm movements and to help you lift things  while keeping the shoulder joint stable yet mobile. The most common shoulder pain problems are a result of wear and tear. They are generally caused due to overuse of muscles, sudden movement, or if you lift an extremely heavy object off the ground. Additionally, you may experience shoulder pain (deltoid pain) in the aftermath of an accident. In all these situations, the first signs of shoulder pain include a dull ache in the affected area or weakness in the arm that may disrupt your daily routine. It doesn’t matter if you’re experiencing shoulder pain due to your hectic routine or have recently undergone surgery. You must consult a specialist at Specialized Physical Therapy to start your shoulder pain treatment. With the right help, you can prevent your shoulder pain from escalating.


The symptoms of shoulder pain include:

  • A dull ache or shooting pain that appears to radiate from the deep in the shoulder
  • The lack of mobility in your arm
  • The inability to carry things or push and pull objects
  • A tingling sensation that radiates towards the elbow
  • Feeling fatigued and weakness in the shoulder joint after work
  • Experiencing continuous shoulder pain for more than a few days
  • Discomfort and restlessness at night, especially if you lie on the strained shoulder
  • Bruising or swelling around your shoulder joint or arm


The causes of shoulder pain include:

  • Rotator cuff injuries consist of rotator cuff tears, rotator cuff tendinitis, rotator cuff bursitis, and rotator cuff impingement. Tendonitis and bursitis cause the bursa or a fluid-filled space to become inflamed and tender due to repetitive movements. While a rotator cuff tear occurs when the tendons – connect the shoulder muscles and upper arm bone – disconnect from the bone.
  • Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis causes joint stiffness, continuous pain, and discomfort when you put your arm behind your head or back, out to the side, and even when moving across your body. It significantly limits the range of motion, both passive and active. A passive range of movement is when a physical therapist manipulates your arm, and an active range of movement is when you move your arm on your own.
  • Calcific tendonitis occurs when calcium deposits start accumulating in the tendons. The calcium build leads to pain that often escalates at night. This condition can restrict the motion in your arm and prevent you from performing basic tasks such as putting on your shirt.
  • Bicep tendonitis causes shoulder pain that develops at the front and travels down the bicep muscle. Carrying heavy things, repetitive lifting, or performing overhead tasks worsens the pain and may be followed by a clicking sound when you rotate your shoulder, and the pain may worsen at night.
  • Bicep tendon ruptures occur when your bicep muscle separates and retracts from its origin. This can cause you to experience an unexpected pop, acute pain, swelling, and bruising. You can also develop a lump or ball within the bicep muscle – one of the most classic signs of a bicep tear.
  • SLAP tears or Superior Labrum Anterior Posterior Tears is a type of glenoid labrum tear. This can be caused by repetitive overuse, falling on your outstretched hands, or a traumatic injury such as getting tackled or checked when playing football or hockey, respectively.  This is a common injury among athletes.
  • Shoulder osteoarthritis is shoulder pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion. It can affect both  the passive and active range of movement. It can occur gradually over time without a specific incident, or after an injury to your neck, shoulder, or arm.
  • Shoulder instability is due to a traumatic injury that results in a loose, unstable joint. It feels as if your shoulder will come out of the socket. Some people may experience chronic shoulder instability called multidirectional instability.
  • Shoulder dislocation occurs when your humerus disconnects from your scapula.  Patients who dislocate their shoulder, experience tingling/numbness down their arm and also significantly weakness when attempting to move the arm in any direction.


Specialized Physical Therapy can help diagnose and treat your shoulder pain. Our experienced physical therapists will diagnose your condition by performing a comprehensive physical examination. You will be asked to provide your medical history, past injuries specific to the shoulder area, diet, and lifestyle. Your physical examination will involve the physical therapist palpating various areas of your shoulder to examine it for deformity and tenderness, followed by strength tests, special tests, and active and passive range of motion tests.  We then use the diagnosis to develop a personalized treatment plan for you.

Treatment and Exercise

Specialized Physical Therapy designs a customized Home Exercise Program (HEP) based on your diagnosis to treat and reduce your shoulder pain. The program plans to target the affected areas and devise a plan to restore its movement. We will use manual hands-on therapy to help you recover from your shoulder injury quickly. Physical therapy will help you resume your daily routine and return to a healthy and active lifestyle with minimal signs of shoulder pain. We can also teach you how to manage your symptoms. So that you don’t face any problems at work or home. If you play sports or participate in physical recreational activities(e.g. swimming, surfing, dancing, etc.), then physical therapy can help you get back in the game. 

The holistic program consists of strengthening exercises to strengthen the muscles that stabilize your shoulder joint. Strengthening these muscles can ease shoulder pain and prevent shoulder injuries in the future. You will also perform stretching exercises that restore the range of motion and also alleviate muscle soreness to improve your flexibility.

Physical therapy exercises target multiple muscles including  the deltoid, trapezius, rhomboids, teres minor/major, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, biceps, and triceps. You should continue the treatment for four to six weeks, depending on the severity of your shoulder injury.
The combination of exercises, manual therapy, stretching and other treatments make it easier for you to recover. Our cooperative physical therapists are always happy to modify the treatment plan to align them with your goals. 

With our careful observation and professional assistance, you can get back on the road to recovery without any trouble.

In the end, if you are experiencing acute or chronic shoulder pain, call us at 201-773-8851 or contact us to schedule your shoulder pain physical treatment.

Request a free consultation or give us a call to get started!