All posts by PhysioFirst Ottawa

Since 1996, Physiofirst Orthopaedic and Sports Centre has steadily earned its reputation as one of Ottawa's leading physiotherapy clinics for manual therapy and therapeutic exercise. We provide physiotherapy services to clients of all ages with a wide range of conditions. Fellow colleagues often consult our team of skilled professionals for treatment or for consultations on challenging cases. Come and experience firsthand the PhysioFirst difference in manual therapy and massage therapy.

Cure your complex shoulder pain

Physiotherapy for Ottawa Shoulder Injuries

We hear frequently about Ottawa shoulder injuries at our clinic as the shoulder is one of the most frequently injured areas of the body. This is likely related to the amazing mobility of the shoulder joint, capable of nearly 360 degrees of motion.

The joint is a very shallow ball and socket joint, depending for stability on the capsule and ligaments, a cartilage labrum (lip around the socket which deepens it for greater stability), and rotator cuff tendons and muscles. The shoulder “girdle” is made up of the collar bone, shoulder blade, lower neck and upper back and associated muscles. Each makes important contributions to movement.

Shoulder dislocations

The younger population is at risk for dislocation injuries, as the capsule is still very pliable, and prone to tear when subjected to forces typical of throwing and high speed sports. As we age, our risk of dislocation decreases, and our recovery improves, since our tissues become stiffer. Physiotherapy for shoulder injuries can provide pain relief, education and exercise instruction post injury.


Tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon) occurs in the rotator cuff as a result of repetitive strain or due to impingement or “pinching” of the bursa or a tendon. This often originates in weakness of the shoulder blade muscles (trapezius and serratus anterior are important) or muscle imbalance in the region. Stiffness in the lower neck and upper back are often associated with shoulder pain.

Rotator cuff injuries

Rotator cuff tears are a common problem, usually resulting from trauma, such as a fall, a sudden pull on the arm, or lifting something, especially at arm’s length. One of the six key stabilizing muscles tears near the joint, resulting in a loss of stability of the head of the humerus in its socket. When this type of injury is suspected, investigation (ultrasound or MRI) is needed. Depending on whether the tear is full thickness or partial, physiotherapy or surgery, and possibly both will play a role in recovery.

Frozen shoulder (Adhesive capsulitis)

This is a common problem in “middle age”. This is an inflammation of the joint capsule, which is an envelope that surrounds the joint, and is lined with a special membrane that produces joint fluid. When inflammation of the capsule is triggered, it reacts by becoming highly irritable and “hot”. Over a period of painful months, the shoulder gradually becomes very stiff or “frozen”. There are numerous ways of treating this problem, often including cortisone injection in combination with physiotherapy (mobilization techniques and exercises) and massage therapy. Generally, this condition requires about 12 months to resolve, and usually with good outcomes.

Ottawa running injury treatment

Let PhysioFirst’s physiotherapists and massage therapists help you return to your running program, pain free. Whether you are a recreational or competitive runner, we will assess the painful area for local problems, as well as checking for sources of referred pain, biomechanical compensations, and muscle imbalances. Observation of your running mechanics on the treadmill helps direct us to the source of your pain.

Common running injuries

The lower back, pelvis and hip are frequently at the root of symptoms that sideline runners. From joint stiffness to poor muscle recruitment to faulty core and breathing problems, our team of skilled therapists will help resolve issues that affect your training.

Knee pain can arise from patella-femoral impairments, iliotibial band (ITB) tightness, ligament and meniscus injury, and arthritic changes due to “wear and tear.” Manual therapy, soft tissue treatment, supportive taping, and therapeutic exercises will get you back to training as quickly as possible.

Shin splints and Achilles tendon injury are common problems in the running population. Again, PhysioFirst’s therapists will assess and treat the area thoroughly, restoring joint and muscle function, as well as identifying related running faults.

Plantar fasciitis and foot pain can also put the brakes on your training. Mobility and stability of the ankle and hind foot, structural problems, and muscle balance will be assessed and problem areas treated.

Find out how manual therapy can help

Manual therapy is a clinical approach using skilled, hands-on techniques to diagnose and treat joint and soft tissue structures for the purpose of reducing pain and inflammation, increasing movement and restoring tissue extensibility and function.

Mobilization and manipulation techniques are passive movements applied at varying speeds and amplitudes, aimed at restoring full painless joint function.

Active muscle energy techniques use a voluntary contraction of muscles against a controlled counterforce to mobilize joints, lengthen shortened muscles, or reduce edema.

Soft tissue mobilization techniques affect the myofascial system and are used to restore muscle fibre gliding, free fascial restrictions and release trigger points associated with muscle tightness.