Shoulder pain is a common complaint we see here at Perth Physiotherapy and Pilates, with the most common type of shoulder pain being Subacromial Pain Syndrome (SAPS). SAPS accounts for 44-65% of all shoulder complaints and is often characterised by feelings of impingement with overhead activities.
Subacromial Pain Syndrome (SAPS)
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint which enables the shoulder to have a large degree of movement in various directions. Commonly known as the mobility-stability trade off, this large degree of movement comes at the expense of stability within the shoulder. Rather than relying on passive structures such as ligaments to hold the shoulder together, various muscles work together to create balancing forces keeping the shoulder within its joint.
Due to the anatomy of the shoulder, it is difficult to pin-point a single structure as the direct cause of SAPS. However, pain and dysfunction are often secondary to an imbalance between the muscles acting around the shoulder, changes to the rotator cuff muscles, poor posture and tightness in the muscles surrounding the shoulder.
Common Symptoms of SAPS
- Pain with overhead movements, worse between 60-120deg, commonly known as the “painful arc”
- Shoulder pain at rest around the front or side of your shoulder
- Pain when reaching behind your back
- Discomfort when lying on the painful shoulder
- Onset of the shoulder pain may be gradual or secondary to trauma
Depending on your level of pain, function and goals, your physiotherapist may recommend a period of deloading and activity modification to help reduce pain. They may also choose to perform manual therapy to help loosen your shoulder, neck, upper back muscles and joints to reduce the tension on your shoulder.
Research has shown that exercise therapy is highly effective in reducing pain and improving function both in the short and long term. Therefore, your physiotherapist will provide you with an individualised exercise program focused on strengthening the muscles around the shoulder. As you improve your physiotherapist will progress your exercises and closer relate them to your functional activities.
As poor posture can affect the position of your shoulder, your physiotherapist will educate you in how to achieve the most “ideal” posture to allow for correct gliding of your shoulder and reduction of pain. In the early stages, your physiotherapist may utilise taping to help facilitate and improve your awareness of this posture.
If you are experiencing shoulder pain please see your physiotherapist who will perform a thorough assessment to determine the most likely cause of your shoulder pain and begin your treatment. We would love to help! Click here to see our availabilities.