shoulder impingement Jan5th 2020

What is shoulder impingement?

Are you experiencing pain throughout one (or both) of your shoulders? If so – you may have impingement of one of the 4 rotator cuff muscles! To best determine whether you are suffering from a shoulder impingement, you will need to schedule an appointment with one of our Doctors of Physical or Occupational Therapy. Our skilled therapists will complete a variety of diagnostic assessments to best understand what is going on with the musculature below your skin.

Why do I have a shoulder impingement?

Shoulder impingements may be a result of many factors – repetitive overhead motions is the most common. Many people don’t realize just how often they are reaching over their head. Some sports such as golf, swim, and racquet sports and activities such as stocking grocery shelves, cleaning, and other household tasks require overhead reaching.

Other factors that may have contributed to your shoulder impingement may include injury (such as a fall), bony abnormalities in the shoulder joint, osteoarthritis, poor rotator cuff and shoulder blade muscle strength, or thickening of the bursa and/or ligaments in the area.

Don’t lose hope – our Doctors of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy can help!

We would love to assist you with conservative treatments to prolong your functioning and reduce the likelihood of surgical intervention.

Why is it important to see a Physical or Occupational Therapist if I think I have shoulder impingement?

If detected in the earlier phases of impingement – tears of the rotator cuff musculature can be avoided! If the impinged shoulder is not treated correctly and becomes worse, tears are more likely to occur – potentially leading to rotator cuff repair surgery. We are here to help you heal the tissues of your shoulder and eliminate your pain before it becomes a greater issue!

The BEST Exercises for Shoulder Impingement:

Below are a few exercises you can start doing NOW, as you schedule an appointment with one of our skilled therapist:

Plank Variation:

Start in a plank position, hold this for 10 seconds, then begin to rock forward and backward, again, doing this for 10 seconds – repeat this 3 times! This exercise will help to stretch the posterior aspect of the shoulder capsule, thus decreasing the amount of pressure on the impinged musculature!

Weighted Hold:

Grab onto a weight – about 15-25lbs depending on what you are comfortable with. With the weight in your hand, relax your shoulder as much as possible and let your arm hang near your side. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat this 3 times. Much like the exercise above, this will help to reduce tightness throughout the structures of the shoulder capsule – ultimately decreasing the amount of impingement!

Doorway pec stretch:

Rest your elbow at or just above shoulder height on a door frame. Lean into the doorway until you feel a gentle stretch. This is done to relax the muscles that are responsible for pulling the shoulders forward. Complete this stretch 3 times and hold each time for 30 seconds

Shoulder Extension Swings:

Start with arm hanging relaxed at side and then swing backwards – repeat this 30 times, swing arm back as far as you comfortably can. This will gently stretch the anterior part of the shoulder and allow for more pain free range of motion when extending your arm out in front of you.

Ergonomic Pointers:

Shoulder pain may present or worsen as a result of poor postures sustained throughout the day. This is because, with poor posture, the shoulders tend to round forward, decreasing the amount of space within the shoulder joint thus compromising and compressing the tissues. Follow the steps below to be more proactive about your posture:

  • If you sit at a computer for long periods of time, make sure the top of the screen is in alignment with your eyes.
    • Tip: you can prop your screen up on books as a short term fix!
  • When sitting at a table or a desk, follow the 90, 90, 90 rule – ankles at 90 degrees, knees at 90 degrees, and hips at 90 degrees.
  • Rest your arms at your sides and bend elbow to no more than 90 degrees when typing.
  • Make sure that you utilize a chair with lumbar support!
  • Stretch your arms and shoulders back, stretching your pectoral muscles, periodically throughout the day.

Shoulder Impingement Q&A:

What does shoulder impingement feel like?

Your shoulder, in the early phases, will feel achy and painful – the pain you experience may increase drastically when reaching directly out in front of you, out to the side, or behind you to the small of your back. Often, people with shoulder impingement complain of increased aches when trying to sleep on the affected side – and many are unable to find a pain free position.

As the impingement becomes worse, your discomfort will likely increase and you may begin to feel stiffness or catching within your affected shoulder. If you are experiencing extreme pain or weakness when trying to lift your arm, you should immediately reach out to your physician – as these may be signs of a torn rotator cuff muscle.

How does a rotator cuff tear occur?

Rotator cuff tears can occur as a result of a traumatic experience, such as a fall, or from deterioration of the musculature over time from consistent stressors, impingement for example.

What muscle is affected with shoulder impingements?

While numerous muscles could be involved or impinged – the most common muscle associated with shoulder impingement syndrome is the supraspinatus. The supraspinatus attaches to the top portion of the scapula (shoulder blade), goes over the top of the humerus (arm bone) and inserts onto a groove on the humerus.

What can Physical or Occupational Therapy do for my impinged shoulder?

In addition to providing you with exercises to decrease your pain, our physical and occupational therapists are trained to provide manual, hands-on, interventions, such as scraping, dry needling, cupping, and active muscle releases to further decrease the tension on specific musculature and ultimately eliminate your pain. Additionally, we will provide you with strengthening and corrective exercises to minimize the likelihood of re-injury!

*If you believe you are experiencing pain as a result of shoulder impingement – please give ProTailored Physical Therapy a call today at 260-739-0300!