Physiotherapy for Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain can cause you to lose function of the whole arm which will affect your daily activities, such as, being unable to get your hand to your mouth to eat or drink, dress properly, drive the car, garden and participate in your normal hobbies and sport. 

Our physiotherapists are experienced in diagnosing, assessing and treating shoulder pain, including identifying the underlying cause of your condition. So, you don’t have to suffer with shoulder pain indefinitely, physiotherapy treatment can help.

We aim to restore your normal daily function, so you can keep up your recreational activities and return to work.

We can usually offer an appointment within 24 working hours.

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Call Gatley on 0161 491 1999 or the Heatons on 0161 432 3232

Qualified and Experienced Physiotherapists at Clinics in Gatley, Cheadle, Heaton Moor, Stockport and Didsbury

Knowing which area of the shoulder is at fault means we can make sure you get the right treatment, whether it’s for shoulder pain from a tendon irritation, stiffness from a frozen shoulder, pain due to poor posture or maybe referred pain from the neck.

It starts with an initial consultation which involves a thorough assessment and examination of your injury or pain. We can then recommend appropriate physiotherapy treatment to reduce your shoulder to pain, increase your shoulder movement and improve your function.

We can help you if:

Call Gatley on 0161 491 1999 or the Heatons on 0161 432 3232

We Offer a Wide Range of Physiotherapy Treatments at Our Stockport and Manchester Clinics

Our service caters for all patients, from those who are suffering from niggles and strains, to post-operative rehabilitation right through to elite athletes recovering from injury or maximising their fitness.

What are the common causes of shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain can be caused by an injury, following a fall, overuse due to taking up a new sport or gardening for the first time in Spring! It may even come on for no apparent reason, waking in the morning having gone to bed with a perfect shoulder – this is not uncommon.

Shoulder pain isn’t always caused by a problem in the shoulder joint – problems in the neck can cause pain that’s felt over the shoulder blade or in the upper outer arm extending into the hand.

How do I know if I need treatment for my shoulder pain?

If your pain is very severe and is disturbing your function and sleep, you need advice as to how you start to make a recovery. Alternatively, if the pain is less severe but has been present for more than 2 weeks and not easing, it is always worth getting it looked at. If the shoulder pain is associated with pain further down the arm, and if you have pins and needles or numbness in the arm or hand, it definitely needs looking at.

Early intervention usually means less treatment is needed to reduce the pain and restore the full range of motion.


During your first session with a physiotherapist, following a detailed assessment,  we will identify the exact location of the shoulder injury or source of the problem you are having, as well as the underlying factors that may have contributed to it.

The aim of our initial assessment is to establish a precise diagnosis so you know what is wrong with your body and what we can do to help you. 

Private Physiotherapy in Stockport

What will happen if I don’t get it treated?

If you are not moving the arm due to pain, there is a risk the shoulder may stiffen up and a ‘frozen shoulder’ may develop. As the shoulder stiffens, you will compensate for the stiffness and pain by hitching your shoulder putting unnecessary strain on the neck which will increase your pain further.

If the shoulder pain is made worse with certain movements and you continue these movements, you may be aggravating irritated muscles/tendons. Your physiotherapist will be able to advise you on this.

Importantly, the longer you wait for treatment, then potentially the more difficult it is to restore full pain free movement to your joints and muscles, so it’s worth seeking physiotherapy attention as soon as possible.

How long does treatment typically take?

Treatment sessions are for 30 minutes.

Sessions are very likely to include ‘hands on’ treatment in the form of soft tissue massage and joint mobilisations. In addition, your physio will give you an exercise programme to continue with at home to maintain your progress, with advice as to how to best manage your pain.

The number of treatment sessions required depends on how quickly your shoulder pain responds to the combination of therapies we use, and any lifestyle changes you make. On average 4-6 treatments are usually required.

We will track your progress carefully. It’ is important to fully rehabilitate any injury and discomfort, restore the shoulder’s natural range of motion and muscle strength to be fully confident that the condition will not reoccur in the future.

Call Gatley on 0161 491 1999 or the Heatons on 0161 432 3232

What are the most common shoulder problems?

Tendon problems – including tendinopathy, tendonitis, subacromial impingement, rotator cuff impingement syndrome.

The tendons involved are those of the rotator cuff muscles; a set of 4 muscles that stabilise the shoulder joint as we use our arm.

Starting new activities (or performing movements we already do more frequently) which involve the hands being above the head e.g. gardening, tennis and decorating, can cause an irritation of the tendons. Falls can also cause tendon inflammation and pain.
Physiotherapy treatment includes techniques to reduce pain, strategies for managing your pain during normal day to day activities, posture correction, shoulder blade positioning and strengthening of the weakened rotator cuff muscles.

Tendon Tears

A tendon tear may result suddenly from a trauma such as a fall or can develop gradually with daily use. The tear causes you to not being able to lift your arm fully and is usually accompanied by significant pain in the shoulder and which can extend into the arm. The pain is often worse at night.

Physiotherapy treatment includes techniques to reduce pain, strategies for managing your pain during normal day to day activities and strengthening exercises.

Frozen shoulder

‘Frozen Shoulder’ is an extremely painful condition in which the shoulder becomes very stiff with loss of movement. It can be one of the most painful conditions of the shoulder.
Frozen shoulder often starts for no apparent reason but may be triggered by a mild injury to the shoulder.

There are three phases, pain, then stiffness which develops gradually, and finally a stage of gradual improvement in the pain and movement. Resolution can take a long time, up to 2 years.
Physiotherapy treatment involves manual hands on techniques to improve the mobility of the shoulder joint and muscles, and a home exercise programme for you to maintain the improvement gained during treatment.


The age-related changes in joints is known as osteoarthritis, where the protective surface of the bone (cartilage) becomes thinner. The cartilage allows the joint to move smoothly and as it wears thin you may experience shoulder pain and stiffness. and can have a significant impact your life.

Physiotherapy treatment includes techniques to reduce pain, strategies for managing your pain during normal day to day activities and exercises to improve your shoulder movement and strength to increase the stability and protection of the joint.

Instability – Dislocations/Subluxations

Shoulder instability is when there is not enough support for your shoulder joint from the muscles and ligaments. This can make your shoulder more prone to dislocate (joint comes out of its socket and does not go back on its own) or subluxate (the joint moves more than it should do but doesn’t actually come out of joint).
Physiotherapy treatment will concentrate on strengthening and proprioception exercises to improve the strength and stability of the joint to prevent further dislocations.

Calcific tendonitis

This refers to a build-up of calcium in the rotator cuff tendons. The pain can be extremely intense and start very suddenly without injury. Along with a frozen shoulder, it is one of the worst pains in the shoulder. The cause is not known, but, is more common in people between the ages of 30-60 years of age.
Physiotherapy treatment includes techniques to reduce pain, strategies for managing your pain during normal day to day activities and strengthening exercises.

AC joint (acromioclavicular)

This is the joint on the top of your shoulder where the collar bone (clavicle) joins the bone on the edge of the shoulder (acromion). It can be injured when you fall onto your side with the arm tucked against your body. Frequent in cyclist and rugby players. It is often painful in weightlifters who lift heavy weights above the head. The joint can be affected by wear and tear changes.

The pain is usually local on the top of the shoulder and does not extend into the arm. Physiotherapy treatment includes techniques to reduce pain, strategies for managing your pain during normal day to day activities/hobbies and strengthening exercises.

Call Gatley on 0161 491 1999 or the Heatons on 0161 432 3232

How is shoulder pain usually treated by a physiotherapist?

There are several ways to treat shoulder pain using physiotherapy and your physiotherapist may combine these techniques together for the best outcome. Rehabilitation rather than surgery is a major part of most shoulder treatments. Some examples include: Posture correction including shoulder blade positioning Strengthening exercises including the rotator cuff and shoulder blade muscles.
  • Acupuncture
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Joint mobilisations
  • Stability exercises
  • Mobility exercises to prevent any further stiffness and regain range of motion
  • Advice to avoid aggravating positions
  • Kinesiology Taping

How will I know if I need an X-Ray or an MRI scan?

Following the assessment, your physiotherapist will advise you of the most appropriate investigation if required. The physiotherapist will liaise with your GP/Consultant if needed.

Will surgery to help my shoulder injury be likely?

There are certain shoulder problems that are more likely to require surgery. Dislocations in the younger adult following trauma such as a fall, is more likely to require surgery.
A fully torn rotator cuff tendon following trauma, in an otherwise normal shoulder, may require surgical repair.

Your physiotherapist can discuss surgical possibilities with you and advise the best way to gain medical advice.

Is there anything I can do at home to help reduce shoulder pain?

Take care with your posture – Don’t sit leaning forwards with your arm held tightly by your side. This position can make the problem worse, especially if some of the pain is coming from your neck.
When sitting, keep a pillow or cushion behind your lower back to ensure your posture is upright which will prevent the shoulders falling forwards. Sitting with a cushion on your lap will support your arm.

When moving your arm or lifting objects, reduce the strain on your shoulder by:
• keeping your elbow bent and in front of your body,
• keeping your palm facing the ceiling.

To lower your arm, bend your elbow, bringing your hand closer to your body.

You need to make sure the shoulder does not stiffen. Raise it upwards with the help of your pain free arm, with hands linked together.

Get in touch

Please don’t suffer in pain or discomfort. If you have shoulder pain that is severe, that is either not improving or getting worse or you have lost shoulder movement, consult us and together we can start your road to recovery.

Physiotherapist treating a patient

Self-Funded Physiotherapy

If you are paying for your treatment yourself, you don’t need a Doctor’s referral or pre-authorisation.

We require payment at the end of each session. You can use debit or credit cards, Apple Pay, cash or cheques.

Feel free to just call and book an appointment anytime.

Using Private Health Insurance for Physiotherapy

Gatley Physiotherapy Clinic is recognised by most of the major insurance companies, as we are all Chartered Physiotherapists and are registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC).

You will need to check with your insurance company prior to treatment, as some companies require a referral from a Doctor beforehand.

Health insurance customers must first provide a policy number and authorisation code along with any excess details or treatment limitations.

Any excess on your policy is to be paid direct to the Clinic.

Contact a private physiotherapist near you today.

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How To Make an Appointment

We are usually able to offer an appointment time within 24 working hours of your call. 

Please either call the clinic or leave your details in the online enquiry form and we’ll call you back to confirm the arrangements.

Gatley: 0161 491 1999
Heaton Moor: 0161 432 3232

Why Choose Gatley & Heatons Physio?

We provide expert physiotherapy treatments from our clinics in Heaton Moor, Gatley and Didsbury and we regularly help patients from across Stockport and Manchester reduce their pain and return to normal activities.

We frequently work with clients in Cheadle, Bramhall, Poynton, Wilmslow, Northenden, Altrincham, Sale, West Didsbury, Withington, Burnage, Heaton Moor, Heaton Chapel, Heaton Norris, Heaton Mersey and Reddish, and we are regularly able to provide home visits for those who are not able to attend one of our clinics.

We have been established in these areas for many years and have a fantastic relationship with most of the Doctors in these areas. If needed, we will liaise with your Doctor about your condition, for example if medication is needed or a referral to another speciality.

We have an excellent reputation of providing high standards of clinical physiotherapy and a professional service through a trusted, personal and friendly approach.

We offer flexible appointment times to all patients including extended working hours and home visits.

Professional and caring treatment received with sound follow up advice. Would recommend to others without hesitation!

Juan Pardo