Shoulder Impingement

What is Shoulder Impingement?

Shoulder impingement occurs when one of the Rotator Cuff tendons becomes pinched, or “impinged”, within the space between the ball and socket of the shoulder. It is most commonly seen in people who engage in repetitive overhead activity, such as swimmers, body builders, scaffolders, throwing athletes and racquet sportsmen.

Shoulder Impingement is not a normal part of shoulder movement, however if it continues to occur, the rotator cuff tendon may “tear” or can become inflamed, a condition known as Rotator Cuff Tendonitis.

Signs & Symptoms

  • dull ache “inside” the shoulder, but can also be felt in the upper arm
  • the shoulder pain will become more constant as your condition worsens
  • painful with lying on the sore shoulder
  • weakness in shoulder muscles
  • pain with reaching overhead, out to the side or behind your back
  • pain with driving or when putting on your seat belt

What Causes Shoulder Impingement?

Shoulder Impingement may occur from either structural or postural/movement causes.

Structural narrowing from bone spurs or arthritis reduces the space available for the Rotator Cuff tendons to move within the shoulder, therefore increasing the likelihood of impingement. This type of impingement largely occurs in the older population.

Shoulder Impingement resulting from postural and movement causes occur at any age and are much more common as multiple factors may exist at the same time. Risk factors include:

  • poor posture
  • upper back and shoulder stiffness
  • rotator cuff weakness
  • muscle tightness, especially in the chest muscles
  • poor shoulder blade stability
  • previous injury to the shoulder joint
  • training errors, including improper technique

How can we help?

  • Soft Tissue Massage to decrease muscle spasm and compression on the trapped nerve. A gentle home-based Neural Mobility Program will be provided to assist treatment.
  • Acupuncture / Dry Needling for pain relief and to deactivate painful trigger points. This can be used with Electrotherapy if indicated.
  • Mobilisations / Manipulations (Adjustments) of the spine to decrease joint stiffness and take pressure off the nerve by allowing more space for it to pass through.
  • Strengthening Exercises for weak muscles to prevent the injury from returning.
  • Education & Advice about posture and its relationship to developing trapped nerves.
  • Corticosteroid Injections can be organised by referring to a Medical Specialist (if necessary).

Is your shoulder pain stopping you from working or training like you use to? Are you worried you will soon have to give it up altogether? 

See an expert at Spine & Sports Physiotherapy now to fix your shoulder and get back to doing the things you want to do!!!