Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is a common problem treated by osteopaths. Shoulder pain is often caused by spending larger periods of time sitting at desks, typing on the computer or watching the television as these activities place strain on your shoulders, especially if you have bad posture.

There is a possibility that your shoulder pain will be due to an impingement on either the rotator cuff tendons or the associated bursa (a closed fluid-filled sac that functions to provide a gliding surface to reduce friction between tissues of the body).

Sometimes these two events can occur simultaneously causing your symptoms to be known as impingement syndrome. Impingement describes the narrowing of the space where your tendons and bursa are located which restricts their movements and consequently causes you pain.


Treatment focuses on decreasing pain, preserving normal range of motion, and strengthening the shoulder muscles. The first goal of treatment is to preserve movement as prolonged reduction of movement can lead to another condition known as adhesive capsulitis, also known as frozen shoulder.

Ice can be used but the response may be variable as the tendons are located deep with the shoulder complex.

Rest is recommended and means avoiding any activity that provokes pain, especially overhead activities.

A few tips to help reduce strain on the shoulder whilst it recovers:

  • Avoid ‘pushing’ exercises such as press ups or bench press
  • Be aware of your posture whilst typing or writing, keep shoulder blades down and back
  • Lift objects close to the body
  • Avoid front crawl if swimming
  • Throw balls underarm

Once your shoulder has full range of motion, including overhead activities, with no pain then you can begin strengthening exercises.