As many as 1 in 4 Americans experience shoulder pain.¬† Pain ranges from a mild nuisance to severe disability.¬† Shoulder pain has many origins.¬† Rotator cuff disorders are the most common.¬† Many others suffer from a frozen shoulder, labral tear, or instability.
In addition to the many origins of shoulder pain, there are even more options for treatment.¬† In some respects, different options are a good thing.¬† However, many treatment options in physical therapy are a waste of time.¬† Manual therapy is proven to help people with all types of shoulder problems.
Proven Physical Therapy Treatments for People with Shoulder Pain
A 2020 research review in The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy looked at all treatment choices physical therapists use for shoulder pain.¬† This includes exercise, manual therapy, electrotherapy, ultrasound, laser, and other combined approaches.
Based on this extensive research, exercise clearly has the most powerful influence on shoulder pain.¬† Manual therapy is also strongly recommended.¬† Manual therapy by itself has only a small influence on shoulder pain.¬† However, when done together manual therapy enhances the effects of exercise.
Electrical stimulation, ultrasound, laser, and shockwave therapy are proven to have no effect on shoulder pain.¬† Based on this research, individualized exercise combined with manual therapy is the best approach to help your shoulder pain.
3 Different Types of Manual Therapy for Shoulder Pain
Physical therapists use various manual therapy techniques.¬† This includes joint mobilization, spinal manipulation, soft tissue mobilization, and manual resistance exercise.¬† Your physical therapist performs an in-depth examination at your first visit. This allows him or her to determine the techniques that are best for you.¬† Below are a few examples.
Shoulder Joint Mobilization
Joint mobilization stretches the capsule and ligaments surrounding your shoulder.¬† Your physical therapist tests the mobility of your joints.¬† Then he or she determines whether or not these structures are contributing to your pain or stiffness.¬† These techniques are painless.¬† And they often result in immediate improvements in pain and shoulder mobility.
When you raise your arms overhead, your spine extends and rotates.¬† When this does not happen, greater stress is placed on the muscles and tendons of your shoulder.¬† Thoracic spine manipulation involves a quick stretch to your spinal joints. You may or may not experience a ‚Äúpop‚ÄĚ.¬† In either case, you will feel an immediate improvement in your shoulder pain.
Shoulder Manual Resistance Exercise
Mobilization and manipulation improve mobility.¬† Immediately after regaining your mobility, it is important to retrain your muscle strength and coordination.¬† Otherwise, you will quickly lose your new range of motion.¬† Physical therapists are skilled at using their hands to provide resistance.¬† In some ways, this is superior to using weights or bands.
Get the Right Manual Therapy for Your Shoulder Pain
Manual therapy accelerates your response to exercise.¬† You will see greater and quicker improvements when the 2 are combined.¬† Your physical therapist will determine the best manual therapy techniques for you after your initial examination.
If you are suffering from shoulder pain or stiffness, contact your physical therapist today.¬† Take the first step and schedule your initial examination.¬† The physical therapists at BSR have been helping Southern Ocean County move without pain since 2007.¬† We would like to help you achieve your goals.