Shoulder pain might appear seemingly out of nowhere—or it could be a result of an obvious injury. The shoulder is a complex system made up of ligaments, muscles, mobile joints, and bones. Because of these complexities, there are many causes of shoulder injury and pain. If you are injured or in pain, a physical therapist (PT) can help. He or she can rehabilitate your injury and help to eliminate pain.
If you are obviously injured, it is important to immediately go to a healthcare professional. After an evaluation of your symptoms and functional levels, a PT might suggest a rest period and perform gentle modalities like massage and ultrasound to reduce pain and inflammation. A PT will be focused on your pain level, range of motion, and strength. He or she might perform a number of tests to determine these levels. From here, he or she will develop a plan of care to get you back to feeling better. This will likely include exercises and stretches in the clinic (and at home) as well as other treatment modalities like electrical stimulation, or joint manipulation.
As you progress, the PT will adjust your treatment plan. You might see new exercises or stretches and the ones you were practicing become easier. If the pain persists after several weeks of therapy (typically four to eight weeks), the therapist might suggest more therapy, or refer you to an alternate specialist for surgical care or injections.