Shoulder impingement syndrome is pain in the shoulder, that usually occurs with reaching overhead or out to the side. It is commonly found in people who do a lot of repetitive overhead activity such as throwing, swimming, racquet sports, and overhead lifting. It can also be the result of a fall, general weakness of the shoulder muscles, or a structural abnormality of the bones or tendons of the shoulder. Individuals with shoulder impingement usually complain of pain, pinching, or clicking in the shoulder with overhead motions, decreased range of motion of the shoulder, or pain with sleeping on the affected side.
Impingement occurs due to pinching of the rotator cuff tendons between the humerus (upper arm bone) and a hook-shaped projection of the shoulder blade called the acromion process. Normally the humerus glides and rotates smoothly when raising the arm overhead. With impingement syndrome, there is a shearing force causing pinching of the tendons between the bones. This shearing and poor movement is usually due to weakness in the muscles supporting the shoulder and shoulder blade, poor posture, and tightness in the neck and shoulder muscles.
Impingement syndrome can often be treated successfully without medication or surgical intervention with Physical Therapy. A physical therapist will evaluate the shoulder, including range of motion, strength, quality of motion, and functional ability. Physical therapy treatment will include hands-on treatment to relieve soft tissue restrictions of the neck and shoulder and improve range of motion of the shoulder and shoulder blade. It also includes specific therapeutic exercises and activities to improve strength of the shoulder and upper back. There are also different taping techniques to help support the shoulder, improve posture, and relieve tension in the neck and supporting muscles. Various modalities such as cold pack, compression, and electrical stimulation are often used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. As symptoms improve, we include functional activities to help with return to sport training and prevent future dysfunction.
If you are experiencing symptoms that sound like this and want to know more, come see us at InMotion OC for a FREE consultation for Physical Therapy.