Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Summary of Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Shoulder impingement syndrome occurs when the tendon below the tip of the shoulder becomes trapped, causing pain when the arm is moved out to the side at shoulder height.

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome FAQ's

Shoulder impingement syndrome is also known as swimmer’s shoulder, throwers shoulder, or painful arc syndrome, providing some insight into how it can come about and what motion the syndrome affects. It refers to when the tendon below the tip of the shoulder becomes entrapped, and can be brought on when rising the arm to the side or in front of you at shoulder height. The entrapment causes pain and inflammation to the tendon.

Impingement syndrome causes aches in the shoulder which develop into pain when raising the arm. Many complain that the pain makes sleep difficult, and the overriding symptom of this syndrome is pain when you reach around to your back pocket. The joint will become stiff with inactivity, resulting in weakness and issues raising the arm. Other symptoms may include a popping or grinding sensation when moving the shoulder.

The recovery time depends on the cause of the condition however the typical recovery time is between 4 and 6 weeks.

While the syndrome is caused by the friction and pinching that comes as a result of raising the arms, in most cases this action causes no harm due to the space between the bone and the tendon. However, every motion of this nature causes some rubbing on the bursa which is there to protect the tendons from rubbing, and so a very repetitive approach to this movement can cause irritation to the tendon.

Degenerative changes may also cause a problem to the tendons, as can poor posture which impacts on the alignment of the shoulder joint. Mis-alignment causes a problem in the coordination of the surrounding muscles, leaving everything out of kilter and increasing the likelihood of friction and rubbing.

The cause of the problem will be at the forefront of most clinician’s diagnosis, treating this accordingly. Activities that provoke the injury will be assessed and there may be specific treatment available to fix bad posture or overuse. Keyhole surgery may be required to remove small bone spurs, though this is a rare fall back with most treatment involving pain management, exercises, lifestyle changes and anti-inflammatory treatments.

The cause of shoulder impingement syndrome is often attributed to poor posture, so there may be a focus on exercises that improve your posture and tighten the muscles. These exercises will strengthen the muscles, improve their stabilisation and tackle stiffness around the shoulder.

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