Shoulder impingement, also known as sub-acromial impingement, is one of the most common shoulder injuries amongst swimming athletes. More than 200,000 people in the U.S. have suffered from this form of shoulder pain. It is caused by connective tissue, or a tendon, rubbing on a shoulder blade. Other athletes who use their shoulders often, such as baseball and tennis players, have been inflicted with shoulder impingement. Workers in the construction and moving industry have also been affected by this condition.

However, just like most physical injuries, there are plenty of treatment options available in proper medications and sports injury physical therapy in NEPA, just to name a few. Our specialists at Cawley Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation are highly experienced at treating your shoulder pain problems. Shoulder impingement typically does well with this form of treatment, as it allows your shoulder to rebuild its range of motion.

What Muscles are Impacted by Shoulder Impingement

The shoulder anatomy is composed of several important bones and structures. These bones include the acromion, clavicle (collarbone), and the coracoid process, and the structures include the rotator cuff, cuff of cartilage, and bursa. Shoulder injuries, such as shoulder bursitis and labral tear, impact the cuff of cartilage and the bursa.  

The rotator cuff is a collection of muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder and is very important to the shoulder’s overall function and support. Its tendons are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, subscapularis. If it is inflamed or injured due to the acromion pressing on it, your shoulder impingement injury will get worse. Other muscles impacted by this injury include the long head of the biceps tendon, superior capsule, and sub-acromial bursa.

What are its Causes?

People whose jobs involve them overusing their shoulders or athletes who overuse their shoulders when playing are the most at risk of the condition. People who have suffered other shoulder injuries such as a labral tear, shoulder bursitis, and shoulder arthritis are also at risk.  But some of the shoulder impingement direct causes involve a gradual weakening of your shoulder’s important muscles and structures. These causes include:

  • Rotator cuff weakness resulting in humeral head moving superiorly into sub-acromial space.
  • Glenohumeral instability.
  • Posterior capsule tightness.
  • Scapular muscle weakness.
  • Trauma to the area.
  • Sub-acromial crowding.

The consistent, repetitive motion of the shoulders is what causes this insurmountable pain.

Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement

If you think you have shoulder impingement, there are various symptoms you have to be aware of. The primary one to know is sudden pain when you lift your arm. However, there are several other indicators of the condition you should know. 

Some additional symptoms include:

  • Decreased range of motion of the shoulder.
  • Achiness, stiffness, and sharp pain in the arm.
  • Tenderness alongside the front and outside of the shoulder.
  • Difficulty accomplishing reaching tasks.
  • Weakness with completing lifting and carrying tasks.

This condition inhibits your ability to use your shoulders in normal everyday activities. But just like other conditions, there are treatment options available based on the severity of your condition. You can utilize one or some of these options to get the help you need today.

Your Treatment Options for Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement can be painful, but the right treatment goes a long way. A lot of times, rest could be enough to treat shoulder impingement. This is especially vital for athletes, who overuse their shoulders often. Avoid engaging in strenuous exercises that will make the pain worse. Try putting an ice pack on your shoulder a few times a day to reduce the swelling.

Certain medications could be of benefit as well. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, can help reduce the pain and swelling impacted by shoulder impingement.

However, most people recover within a few months due to quality rest and physical therapy. A well-trained physical therapist will develop a plan for you that consists of gentle exercises to rebuild your strength and motion in your shoulder. Our specialists at Cawley Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation will do this and identify any impairments to prevent this condition from happening to you again. You don’t have to continue to suffer from this condition. 

With the help of a physical therapist in NEPA, you can recover from your shoulder impingement and get back to the activities you love. Contact us at 570-208-2787 to schedule an appointment today.