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Self-help and information – Shoulder

Please read the following information and then use the links at the bottom of the page if you are looking for further information or exercise.

Important Facts About Your Shoulder – Please Read

Here is a list of the main problems and concerns we would recommend you get checked out by a health professional before commencing self-management exercises. These are called Red Flags and may indicate a more serious problem that requires medical assessment.

Symptoms That Are Present After Trauma

If your symptoms are caused by a recent traumatic incident (e.g. a fall, football tackle) and you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain and weakness at time of injury or shortly afterwards leading to a sudden loss of shoulder movement/ arm function
  • Shoulder is significantly bruised and/ or swollen
  • Shoulder and/ or surrounding soft tissue looks abnormal/deformed
  • New lumps and bumps that appear after the trauma.

NOTE: If you have an underlying poor bone density (e.g. osteoporosis) smaller amounts of force can cause the problems listed above.

Symptoms Where No Trauma Was Involved

  • Sudden loss of active movement with or without pain
  • Pain and/ or stiffness in other joints at the same time as shoulder pain developed
  • Heat, redness and/ or swelling of joint
  • Fever and general feeling unwell at same time as shoulder pain developed
  • Experiencing chest pain and / or difficulty breathing
  • Unexplained lumps and bumps that appear or are changing/ growing
  • Constant pain which does not change with rest or activity
  • Significant worsening night pain with or without night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss and/or previous history cancer
  • Increasing numbers of joints that are painful and/or stiff
  • Any unexplained tingling, numbness and pins and needles into shoulder and/or arm

Note: Special attention should be taken if you have a history of long-term steroid/ immunosuppressive drug use, recent joint replacement, recent steroid injection, rheumatoid arthritis or other joint disease including recent infection, Intravenous drug use or alcohol misuse.

Beginner-to-Progressive Shoulder Exercises

Please make sure you have read through the important information about shoulder pain before proceeding.

Here are some exercises to help you get your shoulder moving better. You may need to build these exercises up gradually.

You may be uncomfortable when you start doing these exercises – make sure the level of discomfort feels acceptable to you and that it doesn’t take too long to settle once you are finished.

The exercises should get easier the more consistently you manage to practice them and this may allow you to progress to more difficult exercises.

These are self help exercises:

  • Try to enjoy the exercises and work at a pace and level that feels safe
  • Please use a common sense approach when deciding which ones to try
  • The exercises listed are not designed as an alternative to professional advice.

Resources

Shoulder Information Leaflets

Beginner-to-progressive shoulder exercise videos

Rotator cuff (shoulder muscle group) exercise options
Tips to manage a painful shoulder