Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Easing the Squeeze: Overcoming Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome is a common ailment that occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles become irritated and inflamed as they pass through the narrow space between the bones in the shoulder. This space is known as the subacromial space, and impingement happens when there’s less room for the rotator cuff tendons to move. The result is pain, especially when you lift your arm overhead or reach behind your back.

Imagine trying to squeeze through a narrow doorway with bulky bags on either side of you. Just as the bags might scrape or get caught as you pass through, the tendons in your shoulder can become pinched or rub against bone, leading to irritation, inflammation, and pain. This condition can be particularly frustrating because it not only causes discomfort but can also limit your ability to perform everyday tasks and activities you enjoy.

Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement Syndrome often start gradually and include pain and stiffness in the shoulder, pain when lifting the arm, pain that worsens at night, and a decrease in the range of motion. Some may also experience a sensation of weakness or a feeling that their arm is “giving way” when they attempt to use it.

The condition is often caused by repetitive overhead activities, poor posture, or naturally narrow subacromial spaces. It can affect anyone but is more common in people who engage in activities that require repeated overhead motions, such as painting, swimming, or playing tennis.

We Can Help
Treatment typically involves rest, ice, and medications to reduce inflammation and pain. Physical therapy is also a cornerstone of treatment, focusing on exercises that improve shoulder mechanics, strengthen the muscles around the shoulder, and restore range of motion. In more severe cases, or if conservative treatments don’t provide relief, corticosteroid injections or even surgery to widen the space for the tendons might be considered.

Preventing Shoulder Impingement Syndrome involves maintaining good posture, regularly stretching and strengthening shoulder muscles, and avoiding repetitive overhead activities. With proper management, most people can overcome shoulder impingement and return to their normal activities without lingering issues.