Pain With Lifting Your Shoulder – A Case Study by IAMT Course Attendee, Jason Wilder, PT, Dip. MDT

by Jason Wilder, PT, Dip. MDT, Regional Education Coordinator for Results Physiotherapy – Morristown, TN

Jason Wilder, Lead Physical Therapist at Results Physiotherapy in Morristown, TN has seen countless patients with shoulder pain over the years that benefit immensely from physical therapy. One of the most common presentations is a shoulder with a painful arc, when the arm is being raised over their head.

Recently, a 34-year-old auto parts worker came to PT after a 6-week history of shoulder pain following a snowboarding accident. Jason used an individual approach of hands-on manual therapy and exercise to specifically address the problems that this patient presented with.

The pain was on and off, but quite severe when he came to physical therapy -he rated his pain a 7/10 with reaching overhead, behind his back or with lifting even light objects. As an auto parts manufacturing worker, it was also making his job quite painful and difficult to perform.  At this point he had seen a primary care physician and had an x-ray which showed no abnormalities, and it was determined that no other imaging was necessary.

On examination from the physical therapy he was able to move his shoulder through a full range, however it was very painful in the middle of the motion and at the top of the motion.  His strength was decreased and lifting was painful and limited.

It was determined that he had sustained an injury to the tendons of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is responsible for stabilizing the shoulder and assisting the other larger muscles with movement and function.

Treatment at Results Physiotherapy consisted of a “hands-on” program to improve general mobility around the shoulder joint and the thoracic spine. The hands-on treatment techniques reduced stress on the painful rotator cuff, allowing a gradual exercise program to be implemented. A gradual loading on the rotator cuff allowed these tendons to progressively improve.

By the 4th visit the pain in the mid range movements was reduced by 75% and only had pain at the end of the range of motion with overhead reaching.  By three weeks, his pain was relieved and he was able to focus on functional strengthening.

After 5 weeks of treatment, this gentleman had no pain during reaching in any direction and was able to lift without pain. He was able to perform his job and return to regular workouts for general fitness without pain as well.

At Results Physiotherapy, we believe that no one should have to live with pain. We commit to you that you will see a physical therapist at each visit and receive this same type of individualized, “hands-on” care. If you or a friend/loved one are experiencing pain or limited function in any area of your body, contact your nearest Results location. Patients can go directly to physical therapy without a referral from a physician in most cases.


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