Nagging Shoulder Pain Holding You Back?

Don’t let shoulder pain ruin your day — physical therapy can help

We use our shoulders for almost every movement we make, so if they’re bothering us, it’s a big deal! There are numerous reasons why someone may experience shoulder pain, and the severity can range from the temporary discomfort of a pulled muscle to the agonizing bone-on-bone friction of arthritis.

Sometimes you just can’t get through a day without feeling a dull aching pain in your shoulder and neck. It can show up as a result of an injury, making you feel as if your shoulder is immobile.

Shoulder pain can take many forms – it can rear its ugly head when you’re reaching toward the top shelf to put dishes away or when you’re struggling to find a comfortable position to sleep in.

Whatever may be the cause of your shoulder pain, Madden & Gilbert Physical Therapy is dedicated to offering you natural pain management modalities. Request an appointment at one of our clinics in Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, Camp Hill, Dauphin, Shrewsbury, Hershey, and Lancaster, PA today to learn more about our various treatment methods for shoulder pain.

Common reasons for shoulder pain

Some of the most common causes of shoulder pain include:


Tendinitis occurs when the shoulder joint is excessively overused typically due to the physical demands of a person’s job, overhead activity, or sport. Another factor for tendinitis is also poor posture because this alters the normal forces on the tendons, and can set you up for tendon injury. This causes the tendons to undergo ongoing inflammation, resulting in swelling and painful impingement when raising your arm.

Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder results in a painful loss of motion in the shoulder with a tightening of the shoulder joint that severely limits motion. It is also known as “adhesive capsulitis.”

This condition can occur if your arm has been in a cast or sling for a while, or if you have been bedridden for an extended period of time.

Some ethnicities are more predisposed, and women from 40-60 years of age tend to have more instances of this condition than men.


Impingement typically occurs because of abnormal movement and tracking of the humeral head as you lift your arm overhead. Pain typically occurs when lifting your arm at or above 90 degrees.


The two main forms of arthritis that affect the shoulder are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  Both of these result in loss of motion, weakness to the shoulder muscles, and difficulty performing normal, daily tasks.

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system decides to attack the membranes surrounding the shoulder joint, resulting in pain and inflammation.

Rotator cuff tear

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in the shoulder joint experiences significant “wear and tear,” typically due to age or excessive overuse.

Surgery vs physical therapy

Those who experience rotator cuff injuries or “torn shoulders” generally report a dull ache deep in their shoulder, arm weakness, difficulty reaching behind their backs, and disturbed sleep due to pain.

Depending on the severity and situation, sometimes surgery is needed, but often the correct physical therapy treatments can help reduce pain and restore strength to the rotator cuff to compensate for the partial tear. If surgery is needed, physical therapy is an integral part of the rehabilitation to a full recovery.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, “A recent study from Finland asserts that when it comes to the treatment of nontraumatic rotator cuff tears, physical therapy alone produces results equal to those produced by arthroscopic surgery and open surgical repair.”

At Madden & Gilbert Physical Therapy, our natural and non-invasive methods can help relieve your shoulder pain and heal your rotator cuff injury.

Why are our shoulders so important?

The shoulder is a “ball-and-socket” joint, meaning the head of the upper arm bone, or “humerus,” fits perfectly in the corresponding space within the shoulder blade or “scapula.” The ends of the bone are protected by a thick layer of cartilage, protecting the bones from rubbing together.

Fluid-filled sacs called “bursae” also protect the tendons from rubbing against the bones. Tendons attach the bones in the shoulder to a set of bones, known as the rotator cuff.

Your shoulders are capable of accomplishing tons of physical feats. The shoulders have the greatest range of all the joints in your body! However, with its complexities also comes the possibilities of pain and discomfort.

The type of pain you feel in your shoulder can vary, depending on what is causing it. Pain from impingement, for example, typically occurs as you raise your arm up, and begins at a certain point in the range of motion.

Pain resulting from a degenerated shoulder may create persistent aches every time you move your arm in certain directions. Acute injuries can result in sudden and intense pains that make it impossible for you to move your shoulder at all. If something goes wrong with the intricacies that make up the mechanical interplay of the shoulder, pain can be the unfortunate result.

What is physical therapy treatment for shoulder pain like?

Physical therapy is a natural, easy, and comfortable way to find relief for shoulder pain, without the need for harmful drugs or invasive surgery. Our Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, Camp Hill, Dauphin, Shrewsbury, and Hershey, PA physical therapists have treated a number of conditions resulting in shoulder pain, with patients finding improvement and relief after just a few short sessions.

Physical therapists are movement experts who are trained to pinpoint the cause of your pain through a variety of diagnostic tests and methods.

During your evaluation, we will examine your range of motion, strength, coordination, medical history, joint mobility, and mechanics of your joint motion.

After your physical therapist has established the cause of your shoulder pain, they can create a specialized combination of physical therapy methods to manage and relieve your pain.

Your treatment plan may involve gentle manual therapy, which helps to restore normal joint movement, ease soft tissue restrictions, and promote circulation. It could also include specific therapeutic exercises to restore strength and the correct sequence of muscle activation around the shoulder joint.

Another benefit of physical therapy is that you’ll learn new ways to move your body to enhance your strength and to prevent the recurrence of future shoulder problems.

Say goodbye to shoulder pain once and for all

Shoulder pain may be controlling your life, but it doesn’t have to!  Our Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, Camp Hill, Dauphin, Shrewsbury, and Hershey, PA physical therapy practice will get you the help you need to start doing the things you love once again without pain.

Contact Madden & Gilbert Physical Therapy today at Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, Camp Hill, Dauphin, Shrewsbury, Hershey, and Lancaster, PA to request your appointment and get started on your path toward pain relief.