Shoulder pain can make even simple movements like reaching for a jar on a high shelf or reaching for something behind your back impossible. Physical therapy offers natural and effective relief for shoulder pain. Gigi Malvas, RPT, CLT, and the team at Step Up Physical Therapy and Rehab in North Port, Florida, treat all kinds of shoulder pain. If shoulder pain limits your daily activities, call the office or book an appointment online today.

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What is shoulder pain?

As the most mobile joint in your body, the shoulder enables you to perform amazing feats. However, this extensive range of motion leaves your shoulder vulnerable to many things that can cause pain.

The shoulder joint is where the ball of your upper arm bone (humerus) fits into the shallow socket of your shoulder blade (scapula). Slippery cartilage covers the ball and lines the socket, and fluid-filled sacs called bursae provide extra cushioning to the joint. A band of tendons and muscles called the rotator cuff provides stability and movement for the shoulder.

When something goes wrong with any of these structures, shoulder pain occurs.

What are the common causes of shoulder pain?

The team at Step Up Physical Therapy and Rehab treats many common causes of shoulder pain, including:


Rotator Cuff Tear (RTC tear)

Rotator cuff tear is a common cause of shoulder pain. This injury is often caused by accident or trauma or can occur with repetitive overhead motions that stretch or tear the group of four muscles and tendons that stabilize your shoulder joint.


Shoulder Tendinitis

Shoulder tendinitis is the inflammation of the rotator cuff or biceps tendon, which results from the tendon being pinched by surrounding structures. This is usually caused by doing sports that require repetitive above-shoulder movements like throwing a baseball, weight lifting, serving a volleyball, racket sports, and swimming.


Shoulder impingement

Shoulder impingement occurs when the tendons of your rotator cuff become irritated or inflammed. Your rotator cuff lies between your upper arm bone and the top of your shoulder. The bones in this area can rub together, irritating the muscles and tendons, causing inflammation, pain, shoulder weakness and lack of movement.



Shoulder arthritis occurs when there is a breakdown of the smooth articular cartiliage which lines the moving surfaces of the joint. This is caused by wear and tear and eventually leads to “bone on bone” approximation of the joint surfaces. As a result, patient experiences pain, weakness and loss of motion.



A dislocated shoulder is an injury in which the upper arm bone pops out of the cup-shaped socket that is part of the shoulder blade. The shoulder is the body’s most flexible joint, which makes it more likely to dislocate. This injury causes tremendous pain and loosens the ligaments that keep your humerus in place. If injury is severe, one is at high risk for repeat dislocations.


Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis or shoulder contracture, is a condition where the synovial membrane – a soft tissue that forms a protective capsule around the shoulder joint – swells, thickens, and contracts. Scar tissue forms, leaving less room for the upper arm to move around. This causes pain and restricts movement in the shoulder.



Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursae, fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joint. Friction from neighboring tendons can cause inflammation of the bursae, making overhead movements painful.

How can physical therapy help my shoulder pain?

Don’t assume you need painkillers or surgery to overcome shoulder pain. Physical therapy can treat many conditions that cause shoulder pain in a safe, noninvasive manner.

First, the team at Step Up Physical Therapy and Rehab performs a comprehensive evaluation to pinpoint the exact cause of your shoulder pain. This includes a thorough physical exam and medical history review.

After they confirm a diagnosis, your physical therapist designs a personalized treatment plan. Physical therapy for shoulder pain can include a combination of effective treatments like:

  • Ultrasound treatment
  • Myofascial release
  • Total motion release
  • Neuromechanical acupuncture
  • Electrotherapy
  • Kinesio taping
  • Rehabilitative stretches and strengthening exercises
  • Education on joint protection techniques

We work in collaboration with your orthopedic doctor to decide if your condition can be managed conservatively or if surgery is needed. If surgery is not needed, our team at Step Up Physical Therapy will work to restore your range of motion, increase strength and educate you on ways to modify your activities to put less stress on your shoulder. If surgery is recommended, we can help prepare you for surgery and provide rehabilitation treatment after surgery.

For comprehensive and noninvasive treatment for shoulder pain, call Step Up Physical Therapy and Rehab or book an appointment online today. If you have difficulty leaving your home to seek physical therapy treatment, we are able to provide services at your home through our partnership with local home health agencies. Feel free to inquire with our staff about this option.