Causes of Limited Shoulder External Rotation

Nov 26, 2023

When it comes to shoulder mobility, external rotation plays a crucial role in performing various activities in our daily lives. Unfortunately, many people experience limited shoulder external rotation, which can hinder their range of motion and impact their overall quality of life. In this article, IAOM-US shares valuable insights into the causes of limited shoulder external rotation and how it can be effectively addressed.

Understanding Shoulder External Rotation

Shoulder external rotation refers to the movement of the arm away from the body, with the palm facing forward or upward. It allows us to perform essential tasks such as reaching up to grab objects, throwing a ball, or even combing our hair. However, certain factors can lead to limitations in this range of motion.

Causes of Limited Shoulder External Rotation

1. Shoulder Joint Injuries: Injuries to the shoulder joint, such as dislocations, fractures, or rotator cuff tears, can result in limited external rotation. These injuries often lead to inflammation and scar tissue formation, restricting the normal movement of the joint.

2. Shoulder Impingement: Shoulder impingement occurs when the rotator cuff tendons become compressed or irritated between the top of the shoulder blade and the humerus. This condition can significantly impact shoulder external rotation and cause pain or discomfort.

3. Muscular Imbalances: Imbalances between the muscles around the shoulder joint can also contribute to limited external rotation. Weakness or tightness in certain muscles, such as the infraspinatus or teres minor, can impede the smooth movement of the shoulder.

4. Frozen Shoulder: Adhesive capsulitis, commonly known as frozen shoulder, is a condition characterized by the thickening and tightening of the shoulder joint capsule. It restricts both active and passive movement, including external rotation.

5. Postural Issues: Poor posture, such as hunching forward, can affect the alignment of the shoulder joint. This misalignment can result in limited external rotation and ultimately lead to discomfort and decreased mobility.

6. Age-Related Changes: As we age, the joints in our body undergo natural wear and tear. The shoulder joint is no exception. Over time, age-related changes can lead to limited external rotation due to factors like degenerative joint conditions or decreased flexibility.

Treating Limited Shoulder External Rotation

Thankfully, there are effective treatment approaches to address limited shoulder external rotation and improve mobility. Consulting a reputable chiropractor or physical therapist, such as those at IAOM-US, can provide valuable insights and personalized guidance based on your specific condition.

1. Manual Therapy Techniques: Skilled chiropractors and physical therapists utilize various manual therapy techniques to address shoulder joint restrictions and reduce pain. These techniques may include joint mobilization, soft tissue manipulation, and instrument-assisted therapies.

2. Exercise Rehabilitation: Targeted exercise programs play a crucial role in restoring shoulder function and improving external rotation. These programs focus on strengthening the surrounding muscles, increasing flexibility, and improving overall joint stability.

3. Postural Correction: Correcting posture imbalances is an essential aspect of addressing limited shoulder external rotation. Chiropractors and physical therapists can provide guidance on how to improve posture, relieve stress on the shoulder joint, and enhance range of motion.

4. Modalities: Depending on your specific condition, your healthcare provider may recommend complementary modalities to support healing and optimize your shoulder mobility. These modalities may include cold or heat therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation.


In conclusion, limited shoulder external rotation can significantly impact your daily activities and overall well-being. Identifying the underlying causes and seeking professional help from chiropractors and physical therapists is crucial in effectively addressing this issue. IAOM-US, a trusted provider of health and medical solutions, offers expert chiropractic and physical therapy services to help individuals overcome limitations in shoulder external rotation and regain optimal mobility.

Remember, taking proactive steps towards maintaining healthy shoulder function is essential for a pain-free and active lifestyle. Don't let limited external rotation keep you from enjoying life to the fullest!