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Shoulder pain and rotator cuff

Shoulder pains are a very common issue, especially in the adult population. Rotator cuff related shoulder pain (RCRSP) is a common term used to describe pain conditions related to the shoulder. Similar to lower back problems, shoulder issues often involve multiple structures rather than a single culprit, as evidenced by science. The term encompasses conditions such as rotator cuff tendinopathies and tears, as well as subacromial pain impingement. The goal in treating shoulder pain is to achieve pain-free movement of the arm through the widest range of motion possible. Good outcomes are often achieved with proper guidance and exercises. This text does not address shoulder injuries resulting from accidents.

Shoulder pain
Shoulder joint


Typical symptoms include pain in a relatively small area during various movements of the shoulder joint, such as reaching movements and external rotation of the shoulder joint. Lifting the arm may also cause pain. The hand may easily become irritated, and nighttime pain may also occur. Although there are likely many causes of shoulder pain (including genetics and hormonal factors), it seems that the condition is often associated with sudden changes in physical load. (1) Typically, the shoulder becomes irritated when, for example, chopping wood is suddenly started after a long break, or when playing badminton after a long time. In such cases, tendon structures may become irritated (tendinopathy). During the first few days, the shoulder may be so painful that it is difficult to move. However, this is usually not a sign of anything serious.


In the treatment of shoulder pain, individualized counseling and guidance, as well as therapeutic exercises, play a key role. Manual therapy (massage, acupuncture, joint mobilizations, etc.) can also be used for pain relief and improving range of motion if the client finds them helpful. If the shoulder is suddenly irritated, for example, due to a new hobby, rest is recommended in the initial phase. However, if the condition does not improve, it often requires professional guidance. It is important that the condition does not become prolonged. It is also worth noting that decompression surgeries do not seem to yield better results compared to therapeutic exercises. (1,3)

What is the rotator cuff?

The rotator cuff refers to a group of four muscles located in the shoulder, whose function is to move the shoulder in different directions.

What can cause shoulder pain?

What are the symptoms of rotator cuff issues?

What helps with shoulder pain?

Could shoulder pain indicate something serious?

Joonas Virtanen

Osteopath, sports massage therapist & strength coach

Ilari Keckman

Osteopath, sports massage therapist & educator



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