The shoulder is one of the most easily injured joints. To prevent shoulder injuries from occurring, becoming worse, or reoccurring, patients are encouraged to participate in a shoulder stabilizing physical therapy program.

 Shoulder Anatomy 

The head of the humerus (arm bone) and glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade) fit together to form shoulder joint. The three most important soft tissue structures of the shoulder joint include the following:

  1. The rotator cuff muscles and tendons. Four muscles and tendons that are responsible for rotating the shoulder, raising the arm, and keeping the shoulder in an anatomical position.
  2. The glenoid labrum. A rim of cartilage that surrounds the glenoid cavity. The labrum stabilizes the shoulder by deepening the shallow socket adding stability to the humerus in the glenoid cavity.
  3. The shoulder capsule. The tissue that surrounds the shoulder joint.  Portions of the capsule are thickened and are called ligaments that help to stabilize the shoulder in different angles of shoulder position.

Injuries to these three structures can result in pain and a decreased ability to perform movements, activities, and sports that require shoulder movements. 

Common Shoulder Injuries 

Common shoulder injuries include the following:

  1. Rotator cuff strain. Overstretching of the rotator cuff muscles and/or tendons. This can lead to pain and weakness. 
  2. Rotator cuff tear. The complete or partial tearing of one or more of the rotator cuff tendons. This can also lead to pain and weakness.
  3. Glenoid labrum or capsule tear. A partial or complete tear of the glenoid labrum. This can cause clicking or catching and the feeling of the shoulder being unstable or loose, 

 As previously alluded to, physical therapy can be used to treat these injuries or prevent them from occurring.

 The Goals of Physical Therapy

The goals of physical therapy are to restore shoulder anatomy and function and decrease pain. A physical therapy program typically consists of a series of stretching and strengthening exercises. It also may consist of manual therapy treatments like massage and gentle manipulation. Under the guidance of a trained and experienced physical therapist, patients participate in a physical therapy program for a series of weeks or months. Patients who follow their program properly and adhere to the advice of their orthopedic specialist and physical therapist can expect to see an increase in shoulder strength, flexibility, and range of motion. They can also look forward to being able to perform shoulder movements without pain.

Seeking Physical Therapy for Shoulder Injuries

If you are interested in starting a physical therapy program for your shoulder, please do not hesitate to contact one of our 5 Long Island or Brooklyn offices to arrange an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. We work hand-in-hand with the best physical therapists and will gladly refer you to them should you have a condition that can benefit from their expert treatment.