Shoulder Physical Therapy In Fort Myers & Cape Coral, FL : Here’s How to Make Your Shoulders Strong, Flexible, & Pain-Free

About the Author: Dr. Scott Gray

Dr. Scott Gray is the Owner of Back in Motion Physical Therapy & Performance. Each and Every Week He Helps His Clients & Patients Live Their Life to the Fullest, Get Active, and Get Pain-Free.

Dealing with shoulder issues can be a real hassle, affecting your ability to lift your arm overhead, rotate your shoulders, or causing discomfort, pain, and stiffness. However, you don’t have to just brush it off and endure the discomfort. There’s a scientifically-proven treatment that can help alleviate your shoulder pain and injury.

Shoulder physical therapy is a highly recommended treatment by medical professionals, known for its effectiveness in addressing a wide range of shoulder conditions. Recent scientific studies have highlighted the efficacy of physical therapy in expediting the recovery process for common shoulder problems like rotator cuff tears and subacromial shoulder pain.

Rather than resorting to medications, surgical procedures, or injections, consider the natural and non-invasive approach of physical therapy for treatable shoulder conditions. This article will delve into the common shoulder conditions that respond well to physical therapy, the methods employed in their treatment, and what you can anticipate from a physical therapy program.

Shoulder Conditions Commonly Treated through Physical Therapy

Numerous shoulder conditions can be effectively managed with physical therapy. These include rotator cuff tears, shoulder tendinitis or tendinosis, labral tears, shoulder impingement, and shoulder arthritis.

It’s crucial to have a Doctor of Physical Therapy assess your condition to confirm the diagnosis and identify its underlying cause. Attempting self-diagnosis and home treatments can often worsen your symptoms, as non-specialists lack the expertise required for accurate assessment.

View the conditions below to see if your symptoms match. Then, dismiss the temptation to scroll through dozens of “home treatment” videos on the internet (which can worsen your condition). Instead, consult an expert in physical therapy who will ensure you’re getting the best care for your condition.

Rotator Cuff Tears

A rotator cuff consists of four muscles that control movement of the shoulder’s ball-and-socket joint. A tear in this area can be either partial or full-thickness in the rotator cuff.

Signs & Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tears

✔ Difficulty raising your arm overhead
✔ Pain when pressure is placed on the affected shoulder
✔ Muscle weakness in the shoulder when lifting or rotating your arm
✔ A crackling noise or feeling when rotating the shoulder

Shoulder Tendinitis or Tendinosis

Both conditions lead to pain and swelling in the shoulder, sometimes collectively referred to as “shoulder tendinopathy.” Although their symptoms may appear similar, the causes and treatments differ.

Shoulder tendinitis arises from inflammation of the tendon due to sudden overload, while tendinosis results from collagen deterioration due to repetitive overuse.

Therefore, the treatment goal for tendinitis is to reduce inflammation, while the treatment goal for tendinosis is to restore collagen in the tendon.

Those who diagnose themselves with tendinitis and self-treat are at risk of making their condition worse if they have tendinosis. Even doctors occasionally confuse tendinitis with tendinosis, which is why it’s important to specifically see a Doctor of Physical Therapy for an accurate diagnosis.

Taking ibuprofen or other inflammation reducers can help tendinitis but slow the healing process of tendinosis. Tendinosis also requires more resting time than tendinitis. Since the symptoms appear the same for both conditions, a Doctor of Physical Therapy will determine which condition you have by evaluating the cause and performing further testing.

Signs & Symptoms of Shoulder Tendinitis & Tendinosis

✔ A swollen area around the tendon
✔ Pain and burning around the tendon
✔ Lack of mobility when raising or rotating the arms
✔ Prolonged pain that worsens with activity

Shoulder Labral Tear

A labral tear in the shoulder is defined as a tear in the cartilage within the shoulder joint. These tears are typically caused by repetitive stress to the shoulder joint, shoulder dislocation, acute injuries (such as car accidents), or wear and tear during the aging process.

Signs & Symptoms of a Shoulder Labral Tear

✔ A locking sensation in the shoulder joint

✔ A feeling of shoulder instability when rotating or raising the arms
✔ Lack of mobility when raising the arms overhead
✔ Inability to throw as far as before the tear

Shoulder Impingement

This condition occurs when the shoulder bone (humerus) compresses the supraspinatus muscle and surrounding soft tissue, typically due to repetitive overhead activity, muscle weakness, poor posture, acute injuries, or prior injuries in the area.

Signs & Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement

✔Pain while raising an arm overhead or reaching behind the body
✔ Lack of mobility when raising the arms
✔ Shoulder weakness
✔ Pain during throwing or similar activities

Shoulder Arthritis

As we age, our shoulders may develop arthritis. Shoulder arthritis is defined as inflammation in the shoulder joints. This condition is usually caused by cartilage degeneration from aging, repeated injuries to the shoulder area, or genetics.

Signs & Symptoms of Shoulder Arthritis

✔Clicking, grinding, or clunking sounds during arm movement
✔ Persistent pain exacerbated by weightlifting or activities involving shoulder joint movement
✔ Reduced range of motion in the arms and shoulder
✔ Swelling and stiffness in the shoulder area

Here’s How Your Physical Therapist Will Treat Your Shoulder Condition

Unlike other treatments, physical therapy will combine various methods to strengthen, mobilize, and heal your shoulder condition so that you are left with strong shoulders and decreased risk of re-injury.

Your physical therapist will give you a personalized plan that targets the cause to eliminate the symptoms. If your shoulder condition stems from aging or genetics, your physical therapist will work with you to manage your symptoms and alleviate your pain for the long haul.

Physical therapists take holistic approaches to treatment that will improve a patient’s overall health without the risks of side effects associated with medications and aggressive or invasive treatments. Patients who see a Doctor of Physical Therapy are saving themselves the hassle of ongoing frustration and medical bills from treatments that don’t work.

The five types of treatments below will be tailored to the individual patient and used in various combinations based on the patient’s condition.

Treatment #1: Strengthening Exercises

Weak shoulder muscles often contribute to shoulder problems. Performing certain sports, activities, and work-related tasks with unconditioned muscles increases the risk of shoulder injuries.

Muscular imbalances in the shoulder are common. Typically, the muscles in the front of the shoulders are stronger than those in the back of the shoulders.

Your physical therapist will provide specific exercises targeting muscles like the trapezius, rhomboids, rotator cuff, and surrounding areas in order to help rectify imbalances and enhance shoulder strength.

Treatment #2: Mobility Exercises

Mobility exercises focus on addressing stiffness, enhancing the range of motion in the shoulder, and mitigating issues that arise due to aging. These exercises include shoulder flexion, extension, and internal and external rotation.

Treatment #3: Massage & Myofascial Release

Have you ever gone to a massage therapist who conducted a series of tests beforehand to determine where you were tight and the cause of the tightness? We didn’t think so.

Our physical therapists at Back In Motion can provide targeted massage and myofascial release to relieve pain and increase mobility. This approach is particularly effective as therapists use their understanding of the underlying cause to work on the most affected areas.

A Doctor of Physical Therapy who offers Myofascial Release is often one of the best in their field. Myofascial Release is a technique where a Doctor of Physical Therapy applies gentle pressure on the myofascial connective tissue with his or her hands to relieve pain and increase your mobility.

A Doctor of Physical Therapy who is up-to-date with the latest leading treatments will use massage and Myofascial Release. These techniques can speed up your healing process and reduce your pain safely and naturally.

Treatment #4: Joint Mobilization & Manipulation

Joints are a real nuisance when they are stiff. Mobility exercises are a great way to decrease stiffness but can take a while to work. When a patient is looking for immediate relief, a highly trained Doctor of Physical Therapy may perform joint mobilization or manipulation.

Joint mobilization is a conservative style of manual therapy in which a Doctor of Physical Therapy uses his or her hands to slowly move a joint in one direction. This technique decreases stiffness and stretches the joint.

Joint manipulation is a technique in which a Doctor of Physical Therapy uses his or her hands (or a tool) to place a controlled thrust on the joint so that the pain is promptly alleviated. During joint manipulation, a patient may hear a cracking or popping sound alongside the thrust.

Joint mobilization and manipulation are both considered safer when performed by trained physical therapists rather than chiropractors because chiropractors usually mobilize the joint in a more aggressive manner.

Not all physical therapists perform advanced manual therapy techniques such as joint mobilization and manipulation. If you believe stiff joints cause your shoulder condition, you may find the best care by seeking a Doctor of Physical Therapy who specializes in these treatment options.

Treatment #5: Patient Education

Part of a physical therapist’s job is to educate patients about ways to improve their condition at home, such as changing their habits or improving their posture while sitting, standing, or performing activities such as sports.

For example, a golfer with shoulder pain might receive guidance on optimizing their golf swing to prevent discomfort and enhance performance. Once the patient’s golf swing is corrected, the patient may enjoy pain-free and mobile shoulders, as well as improved golf performance.

What Can You Expect? A Treatment that Actually Works!

Physical therapy for shoulder conditions is widely regarded by medical professionals as the best course of action for healing. At physical therapy, you can expect an accurate diagnosis, as well as treatment that addresses the root cause, not just the symptoms.

An Accurate Diagnosis

Don’t try this at home! Symptoms of certain shoulder conditions will mirror those of others, but the treatment for each condition will vary A physical therapist has the training and experience to provide a precise diagnosis by conducting a thorough evaluation of your symptoms, strength, and range of motion. This specific diagnosis ensures that you receive the most appropriate treatment for your condition.

Your physical therapist will determine your condition by asking questions, listening to your story, and taking you through a physical examination to test your strength and range of motion.

The questions and testing are used to pinpoint your condition. Other medical professionals may not be able to specify your condition further than “generalized shoulder pain,” but a physical therapist can determine your exact condition. For example, your physical therapist may diagnose you specifically with a condition such as a rotator cuff tear, shoulder impingement, strained muscle, etc.

A physical therapist’s ability to give you an accurate diagnosis means that you will receive the appropriate care to treat your condition.

Fixing the Cause to Treat the Symptoms

Are you tired of treating the symptoms only to have them return? Physical therapists excel at identifying and resolving the root cause of your condition, thereby preventing symptom recurrence.

Factors like posture, muscular imbalances, lifting techniques, sports-related movements, or flexibility levels are examined to pinpoint the cause and develop an effective treatment plan.

Ready to Rebuild Those Shabby Shoulders?

Consider consulting an our team of expert physical therapist. They are well-versed in the latest treatment methods and can help you determine whether physical therapy is the right choice for your specific shoulder condition.

You can reach out to us at 239-766-5590 or visit our physical therapy clinics in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, or Estero to connect with our knowledgeable shoulder pain specialists and rotator cuff treatment experts. Don’t let shoulder discomfort limit your life; seek effective and personalized physical therapy for lasting relief.

“Physical Therapy, Fitness, & Performance Tips From Dr. Scott & the Back in Motion Team”