Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain – what you need to know

Shoulder injuries are common in sports that require repetitive shoulder movement, such as crossfit, weightlifting and boxing. Shoulder pain can be gradual, or it can be sudden, depending on the activity or injury involved.

It can also be persistent if you don’t get the correct diagnosis and start treatment early, to speed up recovery time.At Relieve Clinic in Leeds, our osteopaths can will assess at how your lifestyle may be contributing to shoulder pain, and help you manage and prevent shoulder pain with a range of osteopathic treatments.

Let’s take a more detailed look at the causes and symptoms of shoulder pain, and how our osteopathy treatment can help.

The shoulder is composed of various bones and joints, linked by tendons, ligaments and muscles.

The three important bones that make up your shoulder are: the collarbone (clavicle), the shoulder blade (scapula) and upper arm bone (humerus). There are four muscles, called the rotator cuff muscles, which hold the shoulder joint in place. Shoulder pain from the rotator cuff muscles is quite a common complaint, especially among athletes.

A fractured collarbone is a common injury and cause of shoulder pain, especially amongst young people and the elderly. Fractures in the collarbone can occur from falling with your hand stretched out.

People who use repetitive arm movements for work, such as lifting heavy boxes repeatedly, can develop repetitive strain injury (RSI), which is a cause of shoulder pain.

This type of injury strains soft tissues, such as, tendons, ligaments and nerves from the prolonged, repetitive movement. This can result in inflammation, aching, pins and needles, weakness and numbness.

As you can see, shoulder pain can arise from a variety of different causes. Here’s an overview of some of the most common causes of shoulder pain:


  • AC joint injury from high impact sports
  • Strain from repetitive or prolonged activities
  • Carrying heavy loads
  • Sleeping in an awkward position
  • Nerve irritation
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Shoulder arthritis
  • Fractured humerus or collarbone

Shoulder pain as a result of a rotator cuff strain/tendinopathy, or other mechanical problems, can make simple daily activities difficult. You may feel pain, for instance, when you reach overhead or behind your back. Dressing, bathing and sleeping can be difficult because of sensitivity in the shoulder.

Here are some of the potential symptoms of shoulder pain:


  • Dull ache / sharp / severe pain
  • Onset of pain can be gradual or sudden
  • Pain is triggered or aggravated by everyday activities
  • Pain is accompanied by an inability to move shoulder, muscle spasm, numbness or tingling
  • Shoulder or arm weakness, shoulder stiffness, swelling


Minor shoulder pain can be relieved by over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs and resting your arm. Apply an ice pack for 15 minutes a couple of times a day to ease swelling.

If it’s not better after a couple of days, then you may want to make an appointment to see your GP to get a diagnosis. If your symptoms aren’t serious but warrant manual treatment, you may be referred to an osteopath to help reduce pain and speed up healing.

If ignored, shoulder problems can cause complications with neck and back muscles. Shoulder pain can also compromise work or sporting activities.

Osteopaths can perform a thorough assessment to discover the root cause of shoulder pain. Treatments are personalised to your symptoms and medical history.

Osteopathy can help with the mobilisation and rehabilitation the shoulder with a series of exercises. People with RSI’s also respond well to osteopathic treatments involving massage, articulation and mobilisation of joints and tissues.

A variety of osteopathy techniques may be used, such as:


  • Soft tissue massage to ease muscle and tendon tension,
  • Joint articulation and manipulation to increase range of movement
  • Kinesiology taping to support the shoulder
  • Functional exercises to return you to mobility and activity

The chances of having shoulder pain and stiffness can be reduced with a little foresight and preparation. If you’re undertaking a sporting activity you haven’t done for a while, always warm up and take things slow.

It can be helpful to do some shoulder strengthening exercises a week or two before you start the sport. Your muscles and joints need time to build up to vigorous exercise, like tennis or crossfit, otherwise you could strain a muscle or sprain a ligament.

If you experience shoulder pain from your work, then there are things you can do to reduce the risk of pain and injury.


  • Improve your sitting posture
  • Ensure your workstation is ergonomically optimised
  • Take micro-breaks every 20-30 minutes
  • Leave your desk and go for a walk for 10 minutes every 2-3 hours

At Relieve Clinic, our osteopathic treatment can ease the symptoms of shoulder pain now and in the future, so you can get on with your life without discomfort.

We perform a thorough assessment to determine the source and severity of your shoulder pain and identify activities or triggers for your pain.

Each patient’s treatment plan is tailored to their unique situation. We may recommend a variety of osteopathic treatment techniques, as well as appropriate exercises you can do at home in between appointments. Our goal is to assist in the prevention and management of your shoulder pain.

Visit our Pricing page for the treatment types we offer.