Southwest Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Information Headquarters

Overcoming Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Posted by Dani Livsie on Jun 29, 2011 9:38:00 AM

Shoulder Impimgement syndrome is a collective term that is a result of the shoulder acquiring tendinitis, bursitis or both. It is characterized by shoulder and/or arm pain when raising the arm and causes problems with arm function. Your PT can help you relieve the pain and treat your shoulder as well as teach you how to prevent shoulder problems from returning.

Symptoms of shoulder impingement include shoulder joint pain, pinching, or stiffness. The pain can be worsened by movement,with sleeping, or especially with overhead activities. You may also feel pain at rest. It can also be caused by repetitive motions or activities. Repetitive actions that are repeated day after day without rest can cause impingement. Examples are painting, swimming, tennis, softball/baseball, and other weekend home repairs.

The reason that shoulder impingement occurs is because there is very little room for the structures between the "shelf" of the shoulder blade and the "ball" of the upper arm bone, called the Humerus.Between these 2 bones lies the rotator cuff tendons and the bursa(which decreases the friction between the tendons and the bones). When the tendons or the bursa get inflamed, they swell and decrease the space between the bones. Then when you move your arm overhead, these tissues "pinch" because there is not enough space between the 2 bones.Shoulder Impingement Explained

 Self treatment begins with Rest, Ice and Over-the-Counter anti-inflammatory medications. In the presence of inflammation, you should not use heat for treatment. Inflammation creates increased amounts of heat in the tissues, it is best to avoid adding to this heat. It is much better to consider using ice or cold packs for impingement syndrome. It cools the tissues and increases circulation.If you cannot relieve the pain of shoulder impingement on your own, you may need the help of a Physical Therapist or your physician to get beyond this painful problem.

Physical Therapy treatments will be used as needed to decrease shoulder pain.  

 The Physical Therapist will educate you on how the shoulder functions and moves. They will then teach you about your posture and how to improve it to help your impingement. Exercises are then instituted as your pain is reduced. The important thing with this condition is this: healthcare professionals can treat the symptoms to eliminate the pain, but if the cause of the condition is not explained and the patient is not educated, and compliant with the program, the symptoms will return again and again.

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Topics: health, physical therapy, injuries