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Treatment for shoulder pain and injuries

Mr Daniel Neen

Shoulder pain is a much more common complaint than people may expect. Did you know that about 14% of people in the country are struggling with a painful shoulder at any one time?* Read on to learn how to prevent shoulder problems and how to treat them with physiotherapy or surgery.

*Universities Hospital Plymouth

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Daniel Neen, performs 20-30 shoulder replacements a year compared to the average shoulder surgeon from the National Joint Registry who performs about 10.

How common is shoulder pain?

Mr Neen says: “One to two people per 100 will go to their GP with a new type of shoulder pain every year. Just over two-thirds of these people will be suffering from subacromial pain (associated with any of the structures that sit within the space between the ball and socket joint of the shoulder).”

Top tips to prevent shoulder pain and injuries

Your shoulder goes through a lot throughout the day. From lifting, reaching, throwing and picking objects off the ground – these actions all contribute to a healthy shoulder because they increase your range of motion. However, it also means your shoulder is more prone to injury.

Age, osteoarthritis, dislocation, rotator cuff damage, repetitive movement from playing sport or in your job, and frozen shoulder are just some of the ways in which you can damage your shoulder.

Below are five tips to prevent and soothe your shoulder pain:

  • Stay active and gently move your shoulder to loosen the muscles and tendons
  • Stand up straight with your shoulders down – no slouching forwards!
  • Use pain relief such as paracetamol and ibuprofen so you can keep moving or apply heat or cold pack
  • Sit with a cushion behind your lower back when sitting for long periods of time or rest your arm on a cushion in your lap
  • Alternate tasks at work so you’re only using your shoulder for short periods of time
  • Take a regular break
  • Consider wearing a support if your shoulder feel insecure when lifting, moving the arm or operating tools

Physiotherapy for shoulder pain

Jordan Dehara, our Physiotherapy Lead says: “There are many reasons you can suffer with shoulder pain, and we tend to separate them into traumatic or degenerative. The traumatic reasons could be if you've injured your shoulder playing sports, or it could be at work, if you're a tradesperson. The degenerative reasons could be that you've got an underlying weakness or arthritis, or you have imbalances somewhere else in the body, so it could be coming from your neck or your back.

“Exercises and keeping active can help manage shoulder pain because it keeps your joints supple and it keeps your muscles strong. The shoulder joint requires a lot of strength to stabilise the joint, so it's really important to stay active and lead a healthy lifestyle.

“You will want to seek help for your shoulder pain if the symptoms appear to be getting worse after two weeks because this is the period where structures become inflamed and it takes two weeks for them to settle back down through just self-management techniques.

“Otherwise, if the shoulder pain has been going on for six weeks, then it would be beneficial to seek help from your GP, Physiotherapist or Consultant and for them to give you professional advice on how to manage the pain.

“If conservative management hasn't helped in physiotherapy, then we tend to refer the patient onto the Consultant for further investigations and to for surgical opinion.”

Watch our video to learn more from Jordan about physiotherapy or shoulder pain and browse our physio exercise videos.

When would you need shoulder replacement surgery?

You may be recommended to have surgery if you have arthritis of the shoulder, which causes pain and stiffness in the joint.

Mr Neen says: “The whole point of shoulder surgery for replacing the joint is to help your quality of life. If pain caused by arthritis is affecting your daily activities despite taking painkillers on a regular basis, stopping you doing things the things that you want to do and keeping you awake at night; night pain can be particularly severe, then it's worthwhile talking through the risks of the operation.

“People say surgery is a last resort and that's an interesting point. I think you should certainly try all other interventions that are less risky first and then if they don’t work then I’d recommend you see a Consultant with regards to talking through whether you would benefit from the shoulder replacement.”

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help to increase your mobility and ease your shoulder pain, watch our shoulder surgery webinar.

Treatment for shoulder pain and injuries and Benenden Hospital

If you're recovering from injury or illness and need private physiotherapy treatment, our experienced and compassionate team can help with your recovery, supporting you in maintaining your independence.

Shoulder replacement surgery is an operation to replace your shoulder with an artificial joint if you've been suffering from pain in your shoulder because of arthritis. A new shoulder joint can help improve the mobility of your shoulder and reduce pain.

To contact us about private physiotherapy or to speak to a Consultant regarding shoulder replacement surgery, complete our online booking form, contact us via Livechat or call our Private Patient Team on 01580 363158.

Published on 28 March 2023