What is a Shoulder Impingement and How do I Treat it?

Posted By peakperformance

If you’ve got pain in your shoulder that feels like a trapped nerve or a sharp pain that comes on when you try to lift your arm and rotate your shoulder, you could be suffering from shoulder impingement syndrome. We see many patients with this condition and so if you’re wondering what it is, how it impacts you and what to do to improve it, we’ve got the answers for you.

What is Shoulder Impingement?

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome (SIS) is a common condition that affects the shoulder, mainly in adults, occurring when the muscles surrounding the shoulder swell.

These are known as the rotator cuff muscles and as they’re enclosed by bone, they can cause a pressure, ache, and pain when inflamed. As the tension in the muscles increase, blood flow is restricted and this can cause tiny tears in your muscles.

You may be thinking, ‘well that’s normal, that’s how muscles grow’, but in this instance, where the muscle is compressed by bone and nerves, it can cause sharp pain or a continuous ache. A little movement like putting a bra on or reaching overhead can bring the pain on.

What are the Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement?

Typically, the main symptoms are, as mentioned, pain. However, this is not the only symptom of shoulder impingement. You may find that you also suffer from weakness of the surrounding muscles and arms and/or pins and needles in the corresponding arms, as well as restricted movement in the shoulder, arm, back, and neck. Some sufferers also report headaches

In some cases, if left untreated, shoulder impingement can lead to a rotator cuff tear or a rupture of the muscles.

How do you Treat a Shoulder Impingement?

It’s always best to go to your doctor before undergoing any treatment – they will likely suggest Ibuprofen to treat the inflammation and recommend resting the area. Whilst this is good for pain relief, anti-inflammatory tablets may only mask the problem, not treat the underlying issue, and as such, the symptoms will return when the Ibuprofen wears off.

There is, however, no medicine that completely cures the condition and so physical treatment and rehabilitation is most likely required. This can include taking warm showers or baths to alleviate the pain, as well as daily stretching – though it’s best to start off with light stretching and a programme that a professional creates for you. It’s important not to hold the stretch to the point that it’s painful but breathing through slight discomfort is encouraged for a deep stretch getting to the bulk of the muscle. Try to avoid repetitive injuries, too, as this can aggravate the area.

In addition to resting the area and stretching, you may need to undertake regular sports therapy to relieve the symptoms.

Shoulder Impingement and Sports Therapy

During your sports therapy, your therapist will help you reduce the pain as much as possible while increasing the function of the shoulder. It’s important to work with your sports therapist to get the best results; this could be stretching to aid mobility, particularly movements to improve posture and strengthening exercises to stabilise the area, as well as regular in-clinic treatments to keep you on the path to recovery (and also check your form).

If you are struggling with pain in your shoulder, consult with your doctor and get in touch with our team of sports therapists. We specialise in returning you to your peak with a bespoke rehabilitation programme. Give us a call if you want to improve your health today.