The shoulder is the most movable joint in the body. It is composed of three bones:

  • The collarbone (clavicle)

  • The shoulder blade (scapula)

  • The upper arm bone (humerus)

There are also three shoulder joints:

  • The main shoulder joint (glenohumeral) - attaches the arm to the trunk

  • The AC joint (acromio clavicular) - at the top of the shoulder

  • The SC joint (sterno clavicular) - between the collarbone and breastbone

These bones and joints are joined together by soft tissues - ligaments, tendons, muscles and the joint capsule - to form a platform for the arm to work.

Rotator cuff tear - muscles or ligaments

The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that help move and stabilize the shoulder joint. Damage can occur to any or all of these four muscles, or to the ligaments that attach the bones to each other. This damage can cause significant pain and reduce the range of motion of the shoulder joint. An acute rotator cuff tear can develop from lifting a load that is too heavy or cushioning a fall on the shoulder. A chronic tear is usually found among people in occupations or sports requiring excessive overhead activity (e.g., painters, tennis players).

Tendonitis - tendons

Supraspinatus tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon at the top of the shoulder joint. It causes shoulder pain when moving the arm, particularly if lifted up high. The pain may also occur when lying on the shoulder at night. Biceps tendonitis is an inflammation of the upper biceps tendon. This strong, cord-like structure connects the upper end of the biceps muscle to the bones in the shoulder. It usually occurs along with other shoulder problems, e.g. damage to the rotator cuff tendon.

Frozen shoulder - capsule

Frozen shoulder (or adhesive capsulitis) is a painful and disabling disorder of unclear cause in which the shoulder capsule, the connective tissue surrounding the joint, becomes inflamed and stiff. In the freezing stage any movement of the shoulder causes pain and there is limited range of shoulder movement. In the frozen stage pain may begin to diminish but the shoulder becomes more stiff and using it becomes more difficult.

Bursitis - bursa

The subacromial bursa is the most commonly inflamed of the shoulder bursae and inflammation is usually caused by impingement of the bursa between the rotator cuff tendons and acromion bone. Pain will present on the outside of the shoulder, possibly spreading down the arm, and may be made worse when lying on the affected shoulder, or using the arm above the head.

Dislocation - joint

Dislocation can occur to the shoulder joint or the AC joint. A dislocated shoulder is an injury in which the upper arm bone pops out of the cup-shaped socket of the shoulder blade. A dislocated AC joint is an injury in which the collarbone separates from the shoulder blade. Both injuries are associated with damage to the surrounding soft tissues - broken blood vessels, swelling and tearing.

SportsMed TENS therapy for shoulder injuries

After a diagnosis of a shoulder injury, your management plan should include physical therapy treatment as often as possible.

SportsMed is the TENS, ECS and EMS machine we suggest to aid repair of a shoulder injury.

SportsMed electrotherapy can be used everyday - between visits to the clinic - for drug-free, on-demand pain relief. It is also designed and programmed to aid circulation, reduce inflammation, hasten healing and help with shoulder muscle strengthening.

User guide

Please read the User Guide which comes with your TENS unit

Pad placement - shoulder injuries

Pain relief - place pads where they are comfortable and most effective for pain relief

Injury healing - pads are placed at the location of the injury

Muscle rehabilitation - the generic advice is to place one pad at the top of the muscle and the second pad one-third along the length of the muscle you wish to strengthen. You may need to consult your physiotherapist for specific guidance on which muscles to target.

Shoulder pain pad placement.jpg

If you have any questions please phone our office for further advice.