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Shoulder and Upper Limb Dysfunctions

Image by Jesper Aggergaard

Shoulder and Upper Limb Dysfunctions

Pain in the shoulder is a common condition seen by our physiotherapists.

Tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome are other examples of upper limb injuries seen.


Rotator cuff injuries


The rotator cuff muscles are a group of four muscles which very closely surround the shoulder joint and are extremely important in controlling the movement of the joint.

Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury will include pain in the shoulder, particularly with overhead activities, difficulty sleeping on the shoulder at night and often weakness in the arm when lifting objects.


Tennis elbow


Tennis elbow is a condition that results in pain around the outside of the elbow.

It often occurs after strenuous overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm, near the elbow joint.

One or more of the tendons in the elbow becomes painful. The pain occurs at the point where the tendons of the forearm muscle attach to the bone. Twisting and gripping movements, such as turning a door handle or opening the lid of a jar, are particularly painful.



Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)


CTS is a relatively common condition that causes pain, numbness and a burning or tingling sensation in the hand and fingers.

The carpal tunnel is a small tunnel that runs from the bottom of the wrist to the lower palm.

Several tendons that help to move the fingers pass through the carpal tunnel. So does the median nerve, which controls sensation and movement of your hand.


In cases of CTS, the space inside the tunnel is made smaller by the increased tissue pressure and a build-up of fluid in the tissue (oedema). This places pressure on the median nerve. The pressure is increased further when the wrist and fingers are bent (flexion). Compression of the median nerve causes the symptoms of pain and numbness.


CTS is also a common condition during pregnancy, affecting up to 50% of pregnant women. It is thought that this may be due to the fluid retention that often occurs during pregnancy, which places additional pressure on the carpal tunnel and causes symptoms.

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