Shoulder Pain

Shoulder Pain FAQ

Shoulder pain is the third – most common pain complaint seen by physical therapists. Up to 40% of the general population will have shoulder pain that lasts more than 1 month and up to 1 year. You should not go that long with pain for such a common and (usually) easily treated condition. Find out below answers to shoulder pain FAQs and how physical therapy can help with your shoulder pain so you can grab that pot out of the cabinet, lift up your grandkids, or set a PR on that clean and jerk.

My shoulder “pops” and “clicks” a lot. Does this mean something is wrong with it?

Popping and clicking in shoulder is a common occurrence that can occur intermittently throughout the day or during workouts. What is the pop? It depends on how it feels during and after. If it feels like a pop like when you pop your neck/back, it could be gas being released from the blood. HOWEVER, this could also be a relieving sensation caused from possibly gas creating more space in our joint or just purely a psychological reaction. Essentially, the evidence shows we don’t really have a great idea what’s happening when you get a pop or a click. The majority of the time, it does not mean anything. With that said, if it feels like a clunk and you notice your joint feels loose and moves to and from a different position, it could be the joint subluxing or dislocating; you should consult your PT or MD, as this could be a more serious condition. At the end of the day, popping and clicking in your shoulder is normal. Unless it comes with pain, a sensation of the joint getting stuck or caught, or increases in frequency over time, it should not be a concern. BUT if any of those conditions do arise that coincides with the popping or clicking, then schedule an evaluation with your Doctor of Physical Therapy (hey, that’s us!).

Pain in my shou lder is definitely coming from my shoulder, right?

There’s a reason that the range of estimated prevalence of shoulder pain truly coming from the shoulder is between 1% and 66% for the general population: it’s a complex joint with many moving parts that makes it difficult to determine the exact nature of pain. Moreover, the shoulder has a close relationship with the ribcage and the cervical and thoracic spine due to proximity. And lastly, shoulder pain could be a referred pain from an internal organ like the gall bladder. In a hopefully obvious common theme, you’ll encounter at Premier, this is why imaging of the shoulder (especially in the absence of a traumatic injury) is not a major factor in your physical therapy evaluation or plan of care. We examine how you present in person in the clinic, which determines our course of action to get you back to the things you love.

My MRI showed I have a full - thickness rotator cuff tear and I was told I need shoulder replacement. Is this true?

Do you have pain? Are you unable to lift your arm? Unless you answered yes to either of these questions, then surgery for an asymptomatic full thickness rotator cuff tear is not indicated. Just like “disc degeneration” in the spine, full thickness rotator cuff tears arise with age, but that does not mean you lose function or have pain. It just means that it showed up on an MRI. More good news: the pain you may experience due to a rotator cuff tear does not correlate with the severity of the tear. Shoulder replacement surgery comes down to the amount of pain you can tolerate and whether you can function at your desired level and/or do the things you want to do. Conservative treatment for full thickness rotator cuff tears also has been shown to have the same result on quality of life as surgical repair in the long term (5 years). Get physical therapy first…and last.

*This is an appointment request and not a scheduled appointment. The office will call to schedule the appointment in accordance with the other appointments.