Ask Our PT -Why Does My Shoulder Hurt?

Question: Lately my shoulder has been getting sore at the end of my workday.  It seems to be worse when I am reaching overhead especially if I maintain my arms overhead for long periods of time during my workday.  I haven’t injured my shoulder that I can think of.  The pain more or less came out of nowhere.  Why does my shoulder hurt?


Answer:  You may be dealing with a case of shoulder impingement.  Often times in the shoulder, we have muscle imbalance between the larger muscles (deltoid, upper trapezius, etc.) and the smaller muscles on the rotator cuff.  When the rotator cuff gets weak, resulting in this muscle imbalance, the mechanics of the shoulder joint become impaired.  This can result in the rotator cuff muscles and tendons being irritated by rubbing against one of the bones which forms the shoulder joint.  This imbalance is most noticeable when your arms are over your head due to the forces necessary to maintain this position.

A course of Physical Therapy to strengthen the rotator cuff and improve your shoulder mechanics can be very helpful.  Additionally, job and posture modification may be necessary in the short term to reduce the stresses on these tendons.  Icing the shoulder for periods of 15 minutes after heavy use can also improve the situation.  Thank you for the question!

Jeff Moore, DPT, MTC

Physical Therapist


By Tiffany Coletta