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Why does my shoulder hurt?

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Amy Graber PT, DPT

If your body is giving you the cold shoulder, you’re not alone! Shoulder pain is a very common concern we treat at Fit Family Physical Therapy.  If you are wondering what may be causing your shoulder pain or how to relieve your pain, we are here to help! 

Why does my shoulder hurt?

Why does my shoulder hurt?

The shoulder is the most movable joint in the human body. Shoulder pain can be attributed to a number of things, including: 

  • Injury
  • Age-related changes to muscle mass and joint
  • Instability
  • Overuse
  • Repetitive loading or movement

There are a number of different diagnoses for shoulder pain, but really, we need to look at the cause of those diagnoses if we want to figure out how to treat it! So, labeling the actual structure-related diagnosis of pain isn’t quite as important as pinpointing the cause of the pain. 

What should I do about my shoulder pain?

A majority of the time, the best choice of treatment for shoulder pain is physical therapy. There are rare occasions in which surgery or something more invasive may be required or indicated, but for the average person with shoulder pain, physical therapy is a great option.

Exercises focusing on gaining mobility or strength are much more impactful and proven to have lasting effects.

Physical therapy for shoulder pain combines hands-on therapy with exercise, stretching, and other therapeutic tools to tackle the root cause of your pain and prevent further or future pain.

While stretching can provide some temporary relief to pain, there really isn’t a lot of evidence that supports stretching to reduce pain long-term. Exercises focusing on gaining mobility or strength are much more impactful and proven to have lasting effects. 

why does my shoulder hurt

Best exercises for shoulder pain

There are so many awesome exercises to build your shoulder strength and improve range of motion. Prescription of a “best exercise” is dependent on what the cause of your pain is, and what limitations you have. For example, if your shoulder pain is limiting your ability to reach overhead or complete movement through a full range of motion, one exercise you can try is wall climbs! 

Here is what to do: 

  • Face the wall and use your fingers to “walk” up the wall directly in front of you. 
  • Keep walking your fingers up the wall until you start to feel discomfort or an end to your range of motion. 
  • Hold your fingers at that point for a count of 5 and then slowly reverse and walk your hands back down the wall. 

Complete this exercise 10 times up to 3 times a day. Your goal is to avoid exacerbating any pain, but continue to progress your range of motion with a little support from the wall.

That’s just one example, but here we targeted a limitation and a goal (reaching above your head) and applied an exercise! A physical therapist can help you expand that single exercise to a “best exercise program” for your individual condition.

A physical therapist can help you expand that single exercise to a “best exercise program” for your individual condition.

Still need more help with your shoulder pain?

Concerned about your own shoulder pain symptoms? Need mobile physical therapy in Scottsdale? Contact us at Fit Family Physical Therapy for a free physical therapy consultation phone call. We can address your concerns and help you determine an appropriate course of action for your shoulder pain. Skip the line with physician and insurance wait times, talk to us, and start your path to pain- and symptom-free activity today!

You can also check out our exercise library on YouTube! As always, if you’re unsure about your ability to perform any of these exercises, reach out to us or a healthcare provider first.


About the Author
Amy Graber PT, DPT

Amy Graber PT, DPT has practiced physical therapy in a variety of settings. She has worked specifically with the pediatric population, assisting infants and young children reach developmental milestones, or rehabilitating young athletes. Amy has also worked extensively with adult patients and finds equal joy in helping adults reduce disability and reach their movement potential. She has specific experience with orthopedics, gait & balance training, and geriatrics.

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