Are You Shouldering the Pain of Impingement? -Kevan LaPorte, PT

Posted: April 1, 2019

This month we will focus our discussion on the shoulder and one of the most common orthopedic issue, shoulder impingement. The most common cause of shoulder impingement is soft tissue structures inside the joint being compressed between the bones of the shoulder, creating pain and inflammation. Most commonly these soft tissue structures include the rotator cuff muscles, tendons and bursa which are important tissues for the normal and healthy movements of the shoulder. Long term shoulder impingement symptoms may lead to failure of the rotator cuff muscle group, creating other orthopedic issues.  

The anatomy of the shoulder joint is designed for mobility, allowing us as humans to accomplish a variety of tasks. This could be throwing a baseball, painting a wall, or grabbing a cup out of a cupboard in the morning. To accomplish these motions, the shoulder joint depends on ligaments, muscles, the labrum and bony anatomy to maintain stability with movement.  The mechanics and anatomy are very complex, and outside the nature of this post. If you would like to learn more about how the shoulder works you can follow this link to learn more.  Shoulder Anatomy Link

Shoulder impingement occurs most commonly with repetitive overhead work or lifting. The severity of the issue can vary significantly between each person based on a multitude of factors including previous injury, activity level, age, occupation, strength and flexibility. While some of these factors we can change, others we cannot. Therefore, identifying and treating those factors that are amenable to physical therapy will aid in a person’s recovery.  

When shoulder impingement symptoms do present, identifying and stopping the aggravating activity is paramount. Reducing the stress on the soft tissue structures will reduce the inflammation that is present, helping to reduce the pain. As pain and inflammation resolve, identifying and treating the contributing factors to impingement will help to resolve and prevent the issue from returning. This includes stretching, strengthening, and integrating movement patterns in a correct way to maintain the proper shoulder mechanics.  

Proper evaluation and treatment of shoulder impingement will be crucial in identifying the contributing factors, helping to resolve your shoulder pain. Everyone is different, and physical therapists are trained to treat everyone as such. If you are currently suffering from shoulder pain, please do not hesitate to contact your local Optimum Therapies to treat your symptoms.  

1) Edwards P, Ebert J, Joss B, Bhabra G, Ackland T, Wang A. EXERCISE REHABILITATION IN THE NON-OPERATIVE MANAGEMENT OF ROTATOR CUFF TEARS: A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2016 Apr;11(2):279-301. 

2) Garving, C., Jakob, S., Bauer, I., Nadjar, R., & Brunner, U. H. (2017). Impingement Syndrome of the Shoulder. Deutsches Arzteblatt international, 114(45), 765–776. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2017.0765 



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