Shoulder pain is common, especially as we age. Pain that limits your ability to raise your arm above your head or rotate your shoulder is called “subacromial shoulder pain.” Other names you may hear include rotator cuff tendinopathy, subacromial impingement syndrome, or rotator cuff–related shoulder pain. You may feel this type of pain during everyday activities, such as getting dressed.

The good news is that most people with subacromial shoulder pain improve with physical therapy. A review of the most up-to-date research published in the March 2020 issue of JOSPT concluded that shoulder exercises are the best way to manage this pain.Shoulder exercises are as effective as shoulder surgery and injections, and are less expensive and unlikely to generate negative side effects. They also offer the general health benefits of exercise.

To help guide your treatment and tailor a program to your needs, your physical therapist will discuss your concerns with you and perform a thorough evaluation. Depending on the findings, you may be prescribed different shoulder-strengthening and/or mobility exercises, which may be combined with manual therapy.