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Shoulder Pain

Physical Therapy for Shoulders

Healthy shoulders are something we all take for granted. It’s only when there’s pain, or we don’t have full mobility of our shoulders, that we realize how vital they are for leading a normal, active life.

The shoulder is one of the largest joints in the human body and it is also one of the most complex. The shoulder performs many actions but can be prone to injury when we perform repetitive motions, partake in demanding exercise, or suffer a high-impact event.

Accounting for over seven million visits to the doctor each year (in the US alone), shoulder pain is one of the most common ailments our Seattle physical therapy clinics treat.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

The causes for shoulder discomfort can vary, with problems being acute or chronic depending on the symptoms. If you believe that any of the complaints described apply to you then call us to set up a consultation. Our goal is to set you on track to recover as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Here are some of the most common complaints for shoulders we treat:

Shoulder Dislocation

The usual culprit in shoulder dislocation is the humerus, or upper arm bone, sliding out of its normal place. Dislocation can be very painful. Even after it is “popped” back into place, the shoulder needs time and help to recuperate properly.

Shoulder Impingement

The pain that clients may feel when raising their shoulders is often due to impingement, caused by the scapula pressing on the rotator cuff. While there are both primary and secondary causes of impingement, a fall, poor posture, or repetitive overhead activities are often to blame.

Shoulder Bursitis

Bursa sacks are found in major joints like the shoulder, knee, and hip among others. Their job is to “grease” the movement between bones, ligaments and muscles through the cushioning of movement. With shoulder bursitis, the bursa becomes inflamed and can cause ongoing pain.

Shoulder Tendonitis

Repetitive movements inflame the rotator cuff and cause pain that can be felt at any time but are more common after repeating certain movements. The repetitive movements can cause micro-tears in the collagen matrix with inflammation, swelling, tenderness and pain with specific movements. Tendonitis is more common in older athletes but can happen with younger athletes as well.

Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator cuff injuries are commonly felt as a dull but persistent ache often limiting motion and reducing the strength of the shoulder and arm. Heavy lifting above the head, heavy labor, and sports like wrestling, tennis or baseball can cause rotator cuff tears.

Adhesive Capsulitis

This is a disorder in which the shoulder capsule, the connective tissue surrounding the glenohumeral joint of the shoulder, becomes inflamed and stiff, and grows together with abnormal bands of tissue, called adhesions, greatly restricting motion and causing chronic pain.


Up to 26% of the adult population suffer from arthritis. Age and genes play a major part in this condition, which can cause pain and inflammation in the lining of the shoulder joint.

What We Do

Our Seattle physical therapy clinics address these conditions directly through advanced manual therapy techniques, soft tissue mobilization, improving movement patterns, corrective therapeutic exercises, and conditioning. These interventions help speed the overall healing process so you can return to function as quickly as possible.

Our staff physical therapists’ combined experience and knowledge work together to rehabilitate and improve the function and strength of your shoulder. Contact us now to get started on your path to recovery.