Physical Therapy for Shoulder Osteoarthritis

right shoulder in pain on beach

How Physical Therapy Helps Relieve Shoulder Osteoarthritis Pain and Prevent Reinjury


Physical therapy can be an effective approach for many conditions, providing those suffering from shoulder osteoarthritis relief from their pain and discomfort without a need for invasive treatments or medications. This non-invasive, long-term solution can be tailored to each person’s individual needs and physical capabilities. 

Physical therapists are skilled in assessing each person’s unique situation and recommend exercises, stretches, and activities that can help to reduce symptoms associated with the condition. This can include pain, stiffness, swelling, and muscle weakness. By taking a holistic approach and providing personalized care, physical therapy can greatly improve the quality of life for those who suffer from shoulder osteoarthritis. 

What to Expect in Physical Therapy? 

When you arrive for your first physical therapy session, the therapist will ask questions about your medical history and perform a detailed evaluation of your condition. The therapist may also take X-rays or other imaging studies to determine the extent of your condition. Following the initial assessment, the therapist will develop an individualized treatment plan specifically designed for you in order to maximize function and reduce pain. 

Your individualized treatment plan may include instruction in exercises specific for shoulder osteoarthritis as well as activities that promote overall health and wellness such as stretching, balance training, strength training, aerobic conditioning, posture training, ergonomics education, lifestyle modification strategies such as diet and stress management techniques, and more. Depending on your therapist’s assessment findings you may receive treatments using electrical stimulation or different types of manipulative therapies which are specifically designed to reduce pain and improve joint mobility in order to restore normal movement patterns. 

Types of Exercises That Can Help With Shoulder Osteoarthritis 

Exercises are essential for improving joint mobility and strength in order to maintain optimum functioning. Some examples of exercises that can be beneficial include: 

  • Shoulder rolls – this exercise helps loosen tight muscles around the shoulder joint by gently rotating it in circles both clockwise and counterclockwise; 
  • Shoulder strengthening exercises – these exercises focus on strengthening the rotator cuff muscles which help stabilize the shoulder joint; 
  • Stretching exercises – these are performed while standing or lying down depending on what works best for you; they help improve flexibility within the joint capsule; 
  • Core stabilization exercises – this help strengthen muscles around the trunk so that they can support proper posture when performing activities with arms overhead; 
  • Balance training – this type of exercise helps improve coordination between upper body movements while maintaining balance on one foot; 

These types of exercises should be done several times per week under guidance from a physical therapist for optimal results. 

How Long Does Recovery Take? 

Recovery time varies greatly depending on severity levels of damage as well as other factors like age and overall health status. Generally speaking, however, if you follow a prescribed physical therapy program diligently it is possible to expect good results within 4-6 weeks after starting treatment. Additionally, certain lifestyle modifications such as reducing weight or quitting smoking may need to be implemented to ensure long-term relief from symptoms related to shoulder osteoarthritis. 

How Does Physical Therapy Help Prevent Reinjury? 

Physical therapy effectively prevents arthritis reinjury by strengthening muscle tissue surrounding joints, improving flexibility, optimizing posture, and providing ergonomic guidance. Regular attendance at therapy sessions allows therapists to track progress, make necessary adjustments, and further reduce the risk of re-injury. Online resources provide information to those seeking relief from osteoarthritis worldwide. 


Physical therapy provides effective relief for arthritis patients, ensuring comfort in daily activities and reducing the risk of re-injury. Skilled physical therapists utilize proven methods to address underlying issues and offer lasting relief from debilitating shoulder pain. For those seeking to manage their pain and increase activity levels, seeking the help of a physical therapist is a great starting point. Further readings on the benefits of physical therapy are also available and can help patients better understand how PT can help them heal and improve their quality of life.