4 Painful Conditions That Affect Your Shoulders

4 Painful Conditions That Affect Your Shoulders

Your shoulder joint is, as the saying goes, kind of a big deal. It allows you to do all sorts of things, from stirring cake batter and pitching a baseball to wielding a tennis racquet and showing off your best dance moves.

This ball-and-socket joint provides the most range of motion of any of your body’s joints. But while your shoulder’s complexity allows all this movement, it also has the potential for problems.

At Empire Physical Therapy & Athletic Rehabilitation, our experienced team of Billy Reilly, MS, PT, and Paul LaRosa, MS, PT, ensures that you get the absolute best care for your painful shoulder. Our customized, compassionate approach means that your treatment plan addresses your specific situation.

Painful shoulder problems

We’ve compiled a list of four of the most common painful shoulder issues that physical therapy can significantly relieve.  

Shoulder tendinitis

Tendons connect muscle to bone, and when they become inflamed, you have a painful condition called tendinitis. Repetitive motions and sports injuries are common causes of tendinitis, and uncomfortable symptoms include shoulder pain, swelling, weakness, and limited mobility. 

You might also notice a popping sound when you move your shoulder.


The bursae are little cushiony sacs filled with fluid that are in every joint, including your shoulders. They prevent friction between your muscles and bones. 

When the bursae become inflamed, you typically feel pain in your shoulder, redness, warmth, and even fever if you have a type of bursitis called infected bursitis. 

Bursitis and rotator cuff tendinitis often go hand-in-hand.

Labral tears

Your shoulder labrum is a thick tissue that helps stabilize your shoulder joint by keeping the ball portion of the joint in place. Wear-and-tear, playing sports, and accidents can all cause  labral tears, which are classified by severity.

You can suffer a tear that’s just partial or one that’s a complete tear, where your labrum separates from the bone. A SLAP (superior labrum anterior to posterior) tear affects the front (anterior) and back (posterior) of the point at which the biceps tendon connects to the labrum. 

Repetitive stress, extending your arm to shield yourself from a fall, and lifting something heavy too quickly can all lead to a SLAP tear.

Labral tear symptoms are shoulder pain, weakness, and overall instability. You can also hear a clicking noise when you move your shoulder, though the injury can greatly impede your ability to move. 

Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder affects an estimated 2-5% of the US population at some point. You have a higher risk of experiencing it if you live with diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or heart disease.

Symptoms of frozen shoulder include pain and stiffness. People who need to keep their shoulders still for long periods, such as those who have broken a bone and are in a cast or are recovering from surgery are at higher risk for this problem.

Being over 40 increases the risk of getting frozen shoulder, as does being a woman.

Physical therapy helps relieve shoulder pain

In addition to conservative treatments like medication and more complex ones like surgery, physical therapy can play a key role in your recovery from shoulder pain. 

At Empire, we emphasize one-on-one manual physical therapy, as well as exercises that boost shoulder flexibility and strength. We even have a state-of-the-art gym that you have access to. 

We also offer noninvasive, painless ultrasound therapy. During this procedure, we use a handheld wand to send sound waves to your targeted treatment area to reduce swelling.  

Certain patients benefit from a treatment known as E-stim, a treatment that sends gentle electrical pulses — again through your skin via a wand — that stimulate your affected muscles, improve blood flow, and help with pain. 

E-stim can also block pain receptors from being delivered from your nerve to your brain.

If you need help for shoulder pain and you’re looking for an experienced physical therapy practice with a state-of-the-art facility, call our Midtown East office in Manhattan, New York City, to schedule an appointment.

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