Shoulder pain is the third most common musculoskeletal injury, with nearly 70% of people experiencing a shoulder injury at least once in their life. Shoulder injuries can significantly limit people in their daily activities and in sport. Shoulder injuries can either be a gradual deterioration over time, or the result of a trauma to the shoulder.

Common shoulder injuries include:

  1. Rotator Cuff Injuries: The rotator cuff refers to 4 muscles that attach from the shoulder blade to the arm (humerus). There are a few different types of rotator cuff injuries that can occur: Tendinopathy, Tears and Dysfunction. Any of these injuries may result in pain, particularly around the front or side of the shoulder, and sometimes with a feeling of weakness, and difficulty lifting the arm. Your physiotherapist will be able to assess what the issue is and be able to help you to improve the pain and regain strength.
  2. Acromioclavicular Joint (AC Joint) Sprain: The ACJ joint is in between the clavicle bone and the tip of the shoulder. There are 4 grades of sprain that can occur to this joint, generally sustained through impact to the area. Your physiotherapist will be able to assess how significant the sprain is, and in most cases, a strength based rehabilitation program will be appropriate for a full recovery.


  1. Shoulder Impingement (Bursitis): There are 2 main bursas in the shoulder – the subacromial bursa and the subdeltoid bursa. Everyone has these bursae. On some occasions, the small bursa (a fluid-filled sac) can get inflamed and irritated, which can be painful. However, with appropriate treatment, this inflammation can settle down on it’s own, returning you back to being pain-free and able to do all of the activities that you love.
  2. Shoulder Dislocation: Dislocations are generally a traumatic injury that can cause strain to the many ligaments around the shoulder. After this kind of injury, there is weakness and instability around the joint, and it is necessary to rebuild the strength up to ensure it is strong and stable and minimise the chances of it dislocating again in the future.
  3. Labral Tear: The labrum in the shoulder is a cartilage like structure that lines the socket joint. It acts as a shock absorber and helps to provide stability to the joint. A labral tear can be degenerative in nature, or it may be from trauma, such as impact in sport or overhead lifting in Crossfit. Depending on the extent of the tear, management may either be conservative or surgical. Your physiotherapist will be able to test to see if you have a labral tear and assess the severity, before determining the best managemnet plan.
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