SHOULDER INJURY: Causes and Solutions

INJURY: Causes and Solutions

Shoulder Injury

Shoulder injury is common in people pursuing an active sporting lifestyle, and those working with tools above head height, for example a plasterer. If you’ve got shoulder pain, there are a number of possible reasons why you are suffering.

Before I delve into the various kinds of shoulder injury, let’s have a look at the complex structure of the shoulder joint and it’s muscular attachments.

By OpenStax College [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As you can see from the image above, there’s a lot happening at the shoulder. Given this complexity, it’s not surprising that things go wrong from time to time! Let’s have a look at some of the common causes shoulder injury.

Rotator Cuff Injury

Rotator cuff injuries are the most common shoulder injury. They describe an inflammation in or damage to any or all of the rotator cuff muscles or tendons. I talk more about this particular injury in detail in my Rotator Cuff Exercises (FIX YOUR SHOULDER PAIN) article and video.


Bursitis literally means ‘inflammation of the bursa‘, which is a small fluid filled sack that acts as a cushion between the bones and tendons around the shoulder. Bursitis can be caused by a single trauma such as a fall, or can be present as an overuse injury. Symptoms include:

  • pain on the outer side of the shoulder which may radiate down the arm as far as the wrist
  • usually aggravated by lying on the effected shoulder
  • usually hurts to use your arm above your head
  • pain when reaching overhead

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitus) is where the shoulder capsule itself becomes inflamed, and the adhesions limit the range of motion. Left untreated, frozen shoulder can last years, and in some cases be permanent. symptoms include:

  • pain in the shoulder
  • progressive decrease in range of motion of the shoulder
  • eventual decrease in pain, but movement limitation remains

Slap Tear

A SLAP tear is a tear in the glenoid-labrum which is caused by a single trauma, or repetitive movements of the shoulder. Symptoms include:

  • popping, locking, catching, grinding etc. in the shoulder capsule
  • pain in the shoulder when held in specific positions, such as overhead
  • pain when loaded, particularly overhead
  • a feeling of instability in the shoulder
  • limitations in range of motion

Resolving Shoulder Pain

When it comes to shoulder injuries, it’s important to begin by analysing the sufferer’s posture and biomechanics in order to ascertain the mechanism of injury. In many cases the injury is due to improper technique in sports activities, muscular imbalance, poor posture, or a combination of these factors. Following this, treatment to relevant areas to restore tissue health and improve posture leads into an ability to rehabilitate the injury with the specific and targeted exercises for the individual.

In the below video I demonstrate some exercises specifically designed to strengthen the rotator cuff.