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Rotator Cuff & Shoulder Pain and Your Posture

What Causes Your Rotator Cuff & Shoulder Pain?

The most common causes of rotator cuff and shoulder pain all boil down to normal changes that happen as we get older.

These include fraying of our rotator cuff tendons, bone spurs, and arthritis. Physical therapy has been found to be as effective as medications, injections, and surgery in treating these conditions.

Standard Treatment of Rotator Cuff and Shoulder Pain

The trick to avoiding medications, injections, and surgery for your rotator cuff and shoulder pain is go get "Good Physical Therapy."

Standard treatment included rotator cuff strengthening exercises to get your rotator cuff muscles working correctly. Standard treatment also includes stretching exercises to get rid of stiffness.

This treatment can really be done by anyone. WE even have videos on our YouTube channel (click PPTSM-YouTube) showing the standard rotator cuff strengthening and shoulder stretching exercises.

While these exercises are helpful, I must warm you that most people who only do those exercises, don't get better. These exercises are just the beginning if you have been in pain for awhile.

Standard Treatment Versus "Good Physical Therapy" for Rotator Cuff & Shoulder Pain

A "Good Physical Therapist" will find and fix the other things that prevent the standard exercises from eliminating pain.

The "other things" that need fixing are all related to your posture. Yes - you mother was

right. It is important to sit-up and stand-up straight. No slouching.

When you slouch your shoulder blades rotate. The part that your arm attaches to ends up facing down. Then every time you lift your arm, the rotator cuff gets pinched. You end up with tendon fraying, swelling, and pain.

I know you're thinking you just need exercises to stand-up and put your shoulder blade back where it belongs.

It usually isn't that simple. Chances are you didn't start slouching last week. So a lot of other things have changed. Movement of your spine in your neck and between your shoulder blades has is probably stiff and limited.

Another common problem if you have had your shoulder pain for awhile is spasms in the muscle between your neck and the first rib under your shoulder blade. The spasm pulls the first rib up. It tips your shoulder blade down. That causes more pinching of your rotator cuff. This situation needs to be corrected so you can recover.

It's True for Most Painful Conditions that Limit You

"Good Physical Therapy" is not just working on the standard exercises or stretches for your condition. You should expect to have other areas looked at.

There are a lot of things to be examined. I hope you get the idea.

These problems shoulder be identified. And your treatment should address all of the factors contributing to your pain.


Christopher DiPasquale, PhD, PT, OCS, SCS, CHT is a physical therapist at Performance Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, with offices in Hebron and Colchester, Connecticut. He is board certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in Orthopedic Physical Therapy and Sports Physical Therapy and a Certified Hand Therapist by the Hand Therapy Certification Committee. Visit for more information. You can call the Hebron office at 860-228-4883 or send an email to You can call the Colchester office at 860-537-3014 or send an email to

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