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Can bad posture cause shoulder pain?

3 minutes, 1 second
Shoulder pain affects between 18% and 26% of American adults. In some cases, that pain stems from a traumatic injury like a broken bone or an ailment like osteoporosis or arthritis in the shoulder joints. However, some cases have a simpler cause: Bad posture. Yes, bad posture can cause shoulder pain. If you tend to slouch or spend long hours with your neck bent down over your phone screen, your posture could be the reason why your shoulders hurt so often. Read this article to learn more about the connection between bad posture and shoulder pain.

Why bad posture causes shoulder pain

Bad posture can lead to a condition called a shoulder impingement. A shoulder impingement occurs when your rotator cuff muscles — the muscles that help stabilize your shoulder joints — become inflamed and irritated. This usually occurs because the bursa sac — the lubricating sac that helps the muscles glide over your shoulder bones — becomes itself inflamed, which causes a chain reaction of inflammation in the area around your body. Shoulder impingements are the top cause of shoulder pain in American adults. If left untreated, they can lead to rotator cuff tears that cause even more pain.

The connection between bad posture and shoulder impingements

Poor posture can push the top of your shoulder and your rotator cuff together, placing pressure on your bursa sacs. The more pressure placed on your bursa sacs, the more likely you are to irritate them. Over time, this pressure can lead to inflammation. Poor posture isn't the only thing that can cause shoulder impingements, though. Painting, swimming, weightlifting and other activities that put repetitive stress on your shoulders can put pressure on your bursa sacs and lead to a shoulder impingement over time.

How to tell if you have a shoulder impingement

Shoulder impingements usually have these symptoms:
  • Pain on the top and side of your shoulder.
  • Pain that worsens when you lift your arm above your head, out in front of your body or behind your body.
  • Pain that worsens at night.
  • Weakness or stiffness in your arm.
One easy way to determine if an impingement is the cause of your shoulder pain is to visit a physical therapist in your area. They will assess your symptoms and inspect your shoulder to identify the root cause of your discomfort.

Can physical therapy reduce shoulder pain caused by poor posture?

Physical therapy can help reduce your shoulder pain by correcting the bad habits in your posture. For example, if you tend to walk around with dropped shoulders, your physical therapist will teach you how to carry your body in a way that leaves space between your rotator cuff and shoulder bones. They will also correct any bad habits in your posture that are causing you chronic pain. In addition, your physical therapist will help you strengthen and mobilize the soft tissue in your shoulder. They will do this by teaching you shoulder impingement exercises and applying manual therapy techniques where they physically relieve tension from your shoulder muscles with their bare hands. Depending on the severity of your specific condition, they may recommend aquatic therapy, dry needling and other physical therapy modalities to help treat your pain. Then, with less pain in your shoulders, you can work on correcting your posture to prevent your pain from returning in the future.

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for shoulder pain

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you with your shoulder pain. Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform.  Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your injury or condition.

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