By Caitlan Skillicorn, Senior Physiotherapist
Shoulder pain and how to manage with physiotherapy
As women age, shoulder pain can become a more common occurrence. Whether it is due to hormone-related changes or simply wear and tear from years of use, there are several things that women over 50 can do to alleviate their shoulder pain and get back to their normal activities. Here are some physiotherapy tips tailored to women over 50 for treating shoulder pain:
- Relative rest: It’s important to rest the affected area and avoid any activities that cause pain or discomfort. Women over 50 should be especially careful with lifting heavy objects or performing overhead activities that may exacerbate shoulder pain.
- Ice or Heat: Applying ice or heat to the affected area can help to alleviate pain and discomfort. Women over 50 should be mindful of any skin changes or decreased sensation that may occur with age, and apply ice or heat for shorter periods of time or with a protective barrier.
- Shoulder Exercises: Specific shoulder exercises can help to strengthen the muscles around the joint and improve range of motion. Women over 50 may benefit from exercises that focus on improving posture and balance as well as strengthening the rotator cuff muscles.
- Posture Correction: Poor posture can contribute to shoulder pain. A physiotherapist can assess your posture and recommend exercises to help correct any imbalances that may be contributing to your pain. Women over 50 may be especially prone to developing kyphosis (rounded shoulders) and may need exercises to address this issue.
- Manual Therapy: Manual therapy techniques such as massage and mobilisation can help to relieve pain and improve range of motion. These techniques should only be performed by a qualified physiotherapist.
- Anti-inflammatory Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help to reduce pain and inflammation in the shoulder. Women over 50 should be cautious with taking medications and only use them under the guidance of a healthcare professional and should only be used for short periods.
Exercises for Shoulder Pain – general advice
One of the best ways to do this is through targeted exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. Your physiotherapist can work with you to create a personalised exercise plan that addresses your unique needs and goals.
Some exercises that may be beneficial for shoulder pain include:
- Shoulder blade squeeze: Sit or stand up straight, then pull your shoulder blades together and hold for five seconds. Release and repeat 10-15 times.
- Wall push-up: Stand facing a wall with your arms extended at shoulder height, then slowly bend your elbows to lower your body towards the wall. Push back up to the starting position and repeat 10-15 times.
- Resistance band rotations: Hold a resistance band with both hands and raise your arms to shoulder height. Rotate your arms to the right and left, keeping your elbows straight, and repeat 10-15 times.
- Sleeper stretch: Lie on your side with your affected arm resting on a pillow at shoulder height. Gently press your affected hand towards the bed, stretching your shoulder, and hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times on each side.
These exercises, along with others recommended by your physiotherapist
, can help alleviate shoulder pain and improve mobility. If you’re experiencing shoulder pain in North Sydney, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of a physiotherapist to get started on the path to pain-free movement.