Shoulder Pain

shoulder pain

What is it?

Shoulder pain is the term used to describe any pain that you might feel in and around the shoulder area, and typically shows up when moving your arm overhead.

Shoulder pain is often a difficult problem to live with as we use our arms for so many things in life. Getting the right diagnosis and plan in place is key to resolving the problem.

How it might show up in your life?

Pain when moving your arm over head height

You may struggle to wash your hair or fasten a bra

Everyday tasks like lifting the kettle or putting the dishes away cause pain

Sleeping on the affected side is sore

Painful when looking after or playing with your kids/grandkids

Holding the steering wheel when driving is sore

Cradling your arm to find comfort

You may be reaching for painkillers

How it might feel?

Dull or aching pain

Constant or intermittent pain (comes and goes)

Sharp, shooting, stabbing or burning pain

Stiff and limited movement

Where you might feel pain?

At the front or side of your shoulder

In your mid upper arm area

Feel a sore catching point when moving your arm

You begin to lose movement

Your shoulder just feels weaker

Pain may refer down the side of your arm and/or into the hand

Pain may refer up towards the neck and head

Why do I get Shoulder pain?

Most shoulder pain can be split into 2 types: traumatic and non-traumatic.

Traumatic shoulder pain is usually the result of a sporting injury or a clear event that causes you pain, like falling over on your shoulder or lifting something heavy. In this instance, you might suffer a strain or tear of a ligament, muscle or tendon, or we might see a shoulder dislocation.

The most common type of shoulder pain however, is non-traumatic. This refers to pain that results from the gradual build-up of pressure on the structures of the shoulder over time.

The shoulder joint is an amazing in that it affords us a lot of movement, which makes it possible to do things like tennis, do pull ups, lift our kids and drive etc. However, in order to do these things and give ourselves the best chance of not getting injured, we need these structures (muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves) to be strong, mobile and working in harmony with each other.

Below is a list of shoulder conditions that can cause pain.

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Rotator Cuff Pain

The rotator cuff put simply is four muscles that live in and around the shoulder blade and provide strength and stability for the shoulder.


The reason some people get pain here is in part due to where these muscles attach, which is a small space between the upper arm bone (humerus) and the end of the shoulder blade bone (acromion), referred to as the subacromial space.


Now this space is relatively small so it means that over time as we use our arms in every day life, the tendons begin to compress and rub off the bone, until eventually they can begin to break down, becoming inflamed and painful. The most common tendon to be affected by this is called the supraspinatus.


This process is often exacerbated in people who are stiff and/or weak in these muscles and upper body in general. As many of us spend a large proportion of our day at the desk, these postures can result in excessive pressures on the shoulder and ultimately pain.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a condition which causes the shoulder joint to seize, stiffen and become very painful. People will experience a sometimes drastic reduction in their movement to the point where they struggle to carry out every day tasks.


Generally, there are three phases that people with a frozen shoulder will go through over a varying length of time (anywhere from 2-18 months and beyond).


It is most common in women of the menopausal age, followed closely by of the same age. The exact reason behind why it happens is unclear but there is a link between diabetes and being more susceptible to a frozen shoulder.


Getting a thorough assessment to determine at what stage of the condition you are in is key to best management.


The same process can also cause something called bursitis, which refers to inflammation of the bursa (a fluid filled sac that aids movement).

Other causes of shoulder pain

Other causes of shoulder pain include nerve pain, Osteoarthritis of your shoulder joint or smaller joint just above the shoulder, known as your acromioclavicular joint.

How do we treat Shoulder Pain?

We use our 4-step system to assess and treat your shoulder pain as outlined below. This ensures you have the best possible chance of getting better and the problem not returning in future. 

1) Assess

First we listen to you and take a detailed history of your shoulder pain and problem. Then we assess your shoulder, neck, upper back and arm using simple movement tests and screens. 

We then explain your likely diagnosis and proposed treatment plan of exactly what we need to do to get you better. 

2) Mobilise

We then begin treatment. This usually involves a combination of hands-on techniques as outlined below to help improve joint stiffness, decrease pain and improve muscle and nerve tension.

Soft tissue massage and mobilisation

Joint mobilisation

Acupuncture and Dry Needling

Muscle Energy Techniques


Advice around lifestyle, posture and ergonomics.

We begin to build your exercise rehab programme ensuring it fits around your life and is not overwhelming.

3) Strengthen

Once pain has begun to settle and we are moving in the right direction, the emphasis shifts to helping you build the necessary strength and resilience of muscles and joints in order to get those long-lasting results. We work with you 1:1 in our dedicated rehab space and/or start you in our group PhysioFit Pilates classes. 

4) Optimise

Now that you are well on your way to being pain free, we show you how to build on these results. Many of our clients choose to start our Physio Led Pilates classes which are an excellent way to stay consistent with your exercises and to keep you on track going forwards.

Note: Most people don’t need scans but if during the assessment or subsequent treatment sessions we decide your condition does need further investigation like an X-ray or MRI, we have the facilities to refer you privately if you wish. Usually, we can get this organised and have a result within 3-5 days. 

How do I get started?

If you are ready to book in then you can either phone the main desk on 0191 814 9717, or use our easy online booking system by clicking here and selecting the ‘Physiotherapy Assessment/First Appointment’ option at a day and time that suits you. You will usually be offered an appointment within 48 hours.

Like to speak to someone first?

No problem, please call the main desk and if needed we can have a physio call you back to discuss your specific situation. 


What Our Clients Say

Paul Scrafton
Paul Scrafton
Physio linked to additional stretches/exercises and Pilates at JL Physiofit have improved my core strength and flexibility.
Rebecca Lowes
Rebecca Lowes
Michael helped me with leg pain leading up to my first half marathon. I ended up running the whole distance with no pain and was able to enjoy the experience by taking his advice and getting treatment the week before the big run. Would recommend to anyone.
Neil Taylor
Neil Taylor
Hi , i have had individual physiotherapy by Bev for my back and feet (plantar fascia )and have subsequently been able to join a beginners Pilate class run by Bev . The class is demanding , enjoyable and appropriate to my physical capability.
Alison Bailey
Alison Bailey
I thoroughly enjoyed my Pilates class this morning. I found my teacher to be very thorough, aware of each pupils ability and very encouraging. Highly recommended. Thank you .
Sharon Oldroyd
Sharon Oldroyd
Started treatment in September 2022 after hospital appointments with consultant and scans on my left knee. I booked to see Michael as I was having major pain/grinding noise and unable to do exercise or even walk up/down the stairs properly. He assessed my mobility and strength and developed a tailored, gradual rehab program that has helped me to build strength and confidence in my knee as well as helping me slowly get back into exercising. It's made a vast difference working with Michael as I'm not an easy person to work with and always push myself too far. All my exercises were shared via email and accessible via an app. Now I'm exercising 5 times a week, spinning, strength, cardio, HIIT, rowing and running (I can finally use my home gym). Thank you for your patience and understanding my needs. Would highly recommend Michael and JL PhysioFit.
Diana Robertson
Diana Robertson
I am really enjoying beginners Pilates and feel like I have made good progress. The trainers are very good and it is a positive low-key atmosphere and everyone is friendly and welcoming.
Julie Tough
Julie Tough
Enjoying this physio type class, definitely feeling the benefit.
Moira Luccock
Moira Luccock
Good class today with Michael. Well taught by Michael with options to suit our abilities. Stretching so feel I have progressed. Light hearted banter too - what more could you want! Moira
Lesley Hughes
Lesley Hughes
Good team that listen to what clients have to say before doing each Pilates class, so if you have a niggle they work with it. Exercises are testing but doable, even if at the time you are not sure about it, and if you can't then they come up with a variation for you to do. Friendly classes and staff.
Nick Winslow
Nick Winslow
I attend pilates regularly and cannot overstate how much I value the advice ,motivation,and fun this provides.There is a real rewarding sense of progression.JL himself is my usual instructor ,but the entire team have an infectious enthusiasm that fosters self improvement.
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Ready to Book?

All of our appointments can be easily booked online or if you’d prefer to discuss your needs prior to booking in then please call 0191 814 9717 and we will be happy to chat.