Understanding shoulder injuries

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, because of that mobility, it can perform extraordinary things, like bowling or pitching at high speed.

Did you know that Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Akhtar bowled the fastest ball ever recorded in cricket in 2003, a nimble 161.3km/h (100.2mph)!

We are not all fast bowlers, however taking care of our shoulders is essential for everyone.

Having such a mobile joint means that we have a high level of opportunity for movement and activity.

A father laughs with his sun sat happily on his shoulders

The shoulder joint is often overworked because we use our arms every day for many different daily activities, work, and sport.

As a result, shoulder pain is prevalent, as any of the structures in the shoulder can become injured.

A minor shoulder injury can cause long term complications if left untreated.

The importance of shoulder stability

Shoulder stability is made up of a combination of strong ligaments and highly specialised muscles.

The primary stabilisers include the biceps muscle on the front of the arm and the rotator cuff tendons.

The rotator cuff is made up of 4 small muscles and their tendons. What is really cool about the rotator cuff is as the tendons attach over the shoulder, they fuse to form a single tendon.

This means that if one tendon or muscle suffers a minor sprain the other muscles can continue to support the shoulder and the injured tendon as it heals.

Pain will also help with the healing process.

Diagram of the anatomy of a human shoulder

Causes of shoulder injuries

Causes of acute, or sudden injuries can be caused by falls, direct trauma, tackling or aggressive contact, and gym equipment like the bench press.

Causes of chronic shoulder issues include repetitive strain or long-term wear and tear. These can come from overuse from sport or overhead work activities which are repetitive.

There are also many factors including genetics, hormonal influences, lifestyle factors and other health issues that can contribute to pain that can be associated with the shoulder

Symptoms of shoulder injury:

  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Weakness
  • Loss of range of movement
  • Muscle spasm
  • Limited functional ability of normal activities of daily living

Physiotherapy treatment for shoulder injuries

Your physiotherapist is well-equipped to help you treat and rehabilitate your shoulder issues.

With the right support, you can get back to doing what you enjoy.

By consulting with a physiotherapist, not only do you get a diagnosis, but you also get a treatment and rehabilitation plan.

Physiotherapy treatment may include:

  • Massage – including soft tissue and trigger point release
  • Shoulder joint mobilisation
  • Muscle balance techniques
  • Tendon cross friction/deep friction massage
  • ‘K-taping’ and joint support
  • Dry needling
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises

Additionally, your physiotherapist can assist your recovery by providing you with educational resources and information.

This is one of the ways your treating professionals can work with you to ensure maximum rehabilitation and long-term recovery for your shoulders.

So you can get back to doing what you love – whether it’s back on the sports field, social exercise or tinkering in the garden.


  1. National Library of Medicine

You can book an appointment with an APM Physiotherapist online or in your local area by calling 0800 967 522.

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