Home > What We Treat > Joint and Muscle Pain

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Women have individual hormonal, biomechanical, and social risk factors making them more prone to joint and muscle pain.

Women experience joint and muscle pain at higher rates than men. Pregnancy and childbirth do factor into this, but women do have individual hormonal, biomechanical, and social risk factors that make  them more prone to joint and muscle pain. 

Women are often segregated into sedentary or repetitive work routines, while shouldering the persistent gender imbalance in domestic work. These are just two examples of the interlinking factors which explain gender differences in joint and muscle pain [source].

The physical and occupational therapy services for women offered by the female therapists at You’re In CONTROL! are uniquely prepared to help you Take CONTROL! of your joint and muscle pain.

Techniques we use to rehab joint and muscle pain include:

  • Therapeutic Exercise for Stabilization and Strength
  • Joint and Muscle Mobilization
  • Therapeutic Modalities (Ultrasound, Phonophoresis, or Iontophoresis)
  • McConnel, Kineso, or Sports Taping
A young woman, obviously in pain sitting on a couch in her apartment.


1. Strazdins L, Bammer G. “Women, work and musculoskeletal health.” Social Science & Medicine. 2004 Mar;58(6):997-1005. DOI: 10.1016/s0277-9536(03)00260-0


0 %
Of women with chronic pelvic pain experience depression.


0 %
Higher rate of back pain in women than men.


0 %
Of women will have shoulder-neck pain at some time during their lives.


We can help with these joint and muscle pain issues:

(Click each issue to expand and learn more.)

Neck and Shoulder Pain


By some estimates, as many as 70% of women experience shoulder and/or neck discomfort at some point over the course of their lives.

The shoulder is most mobile joint in your body. It is made up of bones held in place by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They are all designed to work together to allow the shoulder to move freely in many different directions and in synchrony with the neck, arm, chest, and back.

The intricate structure of the shoulder allows you to do everything from raising your arms over your head to throwing a baseball and scratching your back. The shoulder is the most mobile joint of the body; however, that comes at the expense of stability. It’s easy to see why women shoulder so much pain (ha!) when you consider the many tasks most women perform which cause everyday wear and tear to their shoulders, such as repetitive cleaning, continual life-span caregiving, habitual carrying of a purse or diaper bag, office work situations that are not ergonomic, and activities unique to sports and fitness. 

Women experience more shouder-neck pain than men  [source].

Click image to view a larger version.

There are multiple reasons for this including:

  • referred pain from heart or lung conditions (typically left shoulder)
  • referred pain from abdominal or gynecological issues
  • overstress from breastfeeding, infant care, or other caregiving activity
  • structural degeneration of bone and muscle from genetic and hormonal factors
  • hormonal related joint instability from pregnancy or breast feeding
  • women have less shoulder cartilage than men
  • increased shoulder pressure from large brassiere cup size
  • breast cancer related lymphedema and/or scar tissue
  • complications from autoimmune disease

Every shoulder must be treated differently, due to not only the nature of injury and the variability in how injuries can be sustained, but also in the history of each person. Physical therapy or other conservative treatment should be the first line of treatment when dealing with shoulder-neck pain. When left untreated women’s shoulder-neck pain can develop into tension headaches and even dizziness. It’s important to treat shoulder-neck pain when symptoms arise.

Treatment for shoulder-neck pain can include:

  • Therapeutic Exercise for Stabilization and Strength
  • Joint and Muscle Mobilization
  • Therapeutic Modalities (Ultrasound, Phonophoresis, or Iontophoresis)
  • McConnel, Kineso, or Sports Taping

If you can’t lift your arm above your head without discomfort, or turn your neck, the cause could be anything from a frozen shoulder to a rotator cuff injury to a dislocated shoulder. A physical or occupational therapy evaluation will help you determine the cause of your shoulder-neck pain and guide you to Take CONTROL!


Grooten WJ, Wiktorin C, Norrman L, Josephson M, Tornqvist EW, Alfredsson L; MUSIC-Norrtälje Study Group. “Seeking care for neck/shoulder pain: a prospective study of work-related risk factors in a healthy population”. Journal of Occupational Environmental Medicine. 2004 Feb;46(2):138-46. DOI: 10.1097/01.jom.0000112181.06324.42.

Tailbone (Coccyx) Pain


Tail bone pain, often referred to as coccyx dysfunction or coccydynia, often results from a childbirth injury but can also result from constipation. When left untreated, coccydynia causes chronic lower back and pelvic pain that is difficult to resolve with traditional physical therapy because the muscles are best accessed via the pelvic floor. 

A key symptom of coccyx dysfunction is pain and intolerance of sitting. There are many structures that attach onto the small surface area on the coccyx. The coccyx also provides support to important organs such as the rectum and anus.

The position of the coccyx will affect everything that attaches to it, which is why women’s health therapists are uniquely qualified to treat coccydynia. In fact, medical research cites therapy to be 90% effective in treating coccydynia [source].

An illustration of a pelvis and the piriformis and sciatic nerve.

Therapeutic treatment modalities can include:

  • Manual Techniques
  • Joint Mobilization
  • Pelvic Floor Muscle Training
  • Biofeedback
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
  • Cryotherapy/Thermotherapy

When coccyx pain is left untreated, it causes chronic low back and pelvic pain that is difficult to resolve with traditional physical therapy because the muscles are best accessed via the pelvic floor. 

The goal for each patient with tailbone pain is to be pain free.


Lirette, L. S., Chaiban, G., Tolba, R., & Eissa, H. (2014). “Coccydynia: an overview of the anatomy, etiology, and treatment of coccyx pain.” The Ochsner Journal, 14(1), 84–87.

Lower Back Pain


Back pain is the single leading cause of disability in America [source].

Back pain prevents many people from engaging in work as well as other everyday activities. According to research, initial treatment costs for patients with low back pain were 50% lower when the primary care consultation was followed by a physical therapy referral rather than an advanced imaging referral. In fact, over time, using physical therapy as a first management strategy actually resulted in 72% fewer costs within the first year [source].

Seeking therapy as a first option for back pain is especially important for women because women experience lower back pain at higher rates than men [source].

Certain causes of back pain are unique to women and frequently go undiagnosed including:

Hip and Pelvis Illustration showing bones, veins, and arteries.
  • Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction from Prolapse
  • Spinal Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative Spondylothesis from Estrogen Deficiency
  • Coccycynia or Tailbone Pain
  • Endometriosis
  • Osteoporosis Fracture

Women’s bodies are different than men’s and their back pain should be evaluated with those differences in mind. An evaluation can help you identify the cause of your back pain.

 Treatment options can include:

  • Manual Techniques
  • Joint Mobilization
  • Pelvic Floor Muscle Training
  • Biofeedback
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
  • Cryotherapy/Thermotherapy

Every woman’s experience of back pain is different due to the nature of back injury, the variability in how she can sustain movement, and the medical and movement history of each person. Physical therapy or other conservative treatment should be the first line of treatment. When left untreated, women’s lower back pain can develop into hip and other nerve injuries.

Read more information about persistent back pain on our blog. Click here to read “Persistent Back Pain in Women and What You Can Do about It” on our Take CONTROL! blog.

A physical therapy evaluation in our women’s rehabilitation clinic will guide you to take control.


1. Hoy D, March L, Brooks P, Blyth F, Woolf A, Bain C, Williams G, Smith E, Vos T, Barendregt J, Murray C, Burstein R, Buchbinder R. The global burden of low back pain: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study. Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, 2014 Jun;73(6):968-74. DOI: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204428.

3. Wáng YX, Wáng JQ, Káplár Z. Increased low back pain prevalence in females than in males after menopause age: evidences based on synthetic literature review. Quantitative Imaging in Medicine and Surgery 2016;6(2):199-206. DOI: 10.21037/qims.2016.04.06

Knee Pain


Knee pain is a common problem for women, particularly older women and female athletes.

Women experience knee pain at higher rates than men [source]. This is often assumed to be from women’s quadricep angle, or Q-angle, being greater than men.

There are numerous pain-inducing knee conditions. In women over 50, knee pain is typically from patellofemoral pain, chronic degenerative meniscal tears, or early osteoarthritis. In women under 50, knee pain is typically from sports injury or mechanical problems. Excess weight, previous injury, or lack of flexibility/strength can also contribute to knee pain.

Treatment options for knee pain can include:

  • Ultrasound
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Kinesiology Taping
  • Application of Heat or Ice
  • Soft Tissue Massages or Knee Joint Mobilization
  • Exercises to Strengthen Hips (Your hip muscles help control the position of your knees. Weakness here may cause knee pain.)
  • Lower Extremity Stretches
  • Balance Exercises
  • Advice on Shoes
  • Modifications to Participate in Sport(s)
A diagram of human bones of the pelvis and leg showing a wider Q Angle in women.

Physical therapy for knee pain involves a thorough evaluation and assessment of your entire lower extremity from your hip to your foot. Your therapist will assess your knee pain and prescribe the right treatments, including exercises and modalities, to help decrease your knee pain and improve your overall mobility.

A physical therapy evaluation at You’re In CONTROL! will help you understand the cause(s) of your knee pain. 

Work the program we develop with you and Take CONTROL!


Nguyen, U. S., Zhang, Y., Zhu, Y., Niu, J., Zhang, B., & Felson, D. T. (2011). Increasing prevalence of knee pain and symptomatic knee osteoarthritis: survey and cohort data. Annals of internal medicine, 155(11), 725–732. DOI: 10.7326/0003-4819-155-11-201112060-00004

Piriformis Syndrome


Frequently women with piriformis syndrome will not completely rehabilitate without pelvic floor therapy.

Piriformis syndrome, often called sciatica, is a musculoskeletal problem that involves the piriformis muscle and sciatic nerve. 

Piriformis syndrome presents as numbness or weakness in the structures neurologically supplied by the sciatic nerve including the gluteal region, posterior thigh, leg, or foot. It can cause pain when walking upstairs, a dull soreness or ache in the buttocks area, increased pain after sitting 15–20 minutes, inability to move the hip, and/or drop foot. 

Women are diagnosed with piriformis syndrome six times more often than men. This ratio can be explained by the wider quadriceps femoris muscle angle in the coxae of women.

Due to the anatomical location of the piriformis, lying deep under the gluteus maximus, pelvic floor therapy is more effective to loosen the piriformis compared to the moist heat or ultrasound modalities used in traditional physical therapy.

Treatment options may include:

  • Manual Myofascial Techniques
  • Nerve Gliding Manipulations and Exercises
  • Neuromuscular Reeducation
  • Biofeedback
  • Ultrasound
  • Therapeutic Exercise

The goal in therapy is to loosen the tension on the piriformis and sciatic nerve to function pain free.


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