Shoulder pain can result from a variety of problems originating in the shoulder and/or neck. Rotator cuff pathology is the leading cause of shoulder pain in the adult population. The rotator cuff is comprised of the subscapularis, infraspinatus, teres minor, teres major and supraspinatus muscles. The supraspinatus tendon can be impinged or compressed within the joint space causing friction, fraying and sometimes tears to the tendon.
People who present with shoulder pain typically complain of pain localized to the shoulder as well as pain down the side of the arm. Some people report limited range of motion as well as increased pain when raising their arm above shoulder level. Others report increased pain and difficulties pulling a shirt over their head as well as increased pain and difficulties reaching behind their back.
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Conservative care for rotator cuff problems can and typically will reduce pain as well as restore function. However in the presence of a complete tear of one or multiple tendons, surgical intervention may be required. Conservative care for rotator cuff pathology includes physical therapy services such as joint mobilization, passive range of motion, rotator cuff strengthening, and modalities: iontophoresis, electrical stimulation and ice.