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The shoulder joint is the most versatile and mobile joint in the body giving us great ability to do lifting and reaching tasks; and thus it depends on a group of strong, and efficient muscles coordinating to control it. Uniquely our shoulder muscles attach onto the neck, shoulder blade, ribcage, and arm. As a result, shoulder pain can also affect and extend into the neck, trunk and arm. Shoulder pain is a term that relates to pain in and around the front, back and sides of shoulder.

Medical diagnostic labels common for shoulder pain include:  

  1. Rotator cuff tear (partial thickness, full thickness, interstitial, rupture),
    Rotator cuff related shoulder pain (RCRPS)

  2. Rotator cuff / Long head of bicep tendi-nosis/nitis/nopathy,

  3. SLAP labral tear, Shoulder instability

  4. Subacromial bursitis, Subacromial impingement syndrome,

  5. Shoulder arthritis, fractures (proximal humerus – head, shaft)

  6. Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) and acromio-clavicular joint pain

Physiotherapists are key healthcare providers for conservative shoulder care, being tasked to prevent persistent pain and disability, and facilitating a pathway to wellness and functional restoration.  


There is strong evidence that physiotherapy should be the first line of shoulder pain treatment once serious injury has been ruled out (e.g. fracture or traumatic tendon rupture). Shoulders recover best when we move and get it stronger progressively. This may involve a range of helpful recovery strategies such as pain reduction, shoulder gentle movements and strengthening exercises (level 1 evidence).

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