Shoulder impingement 

What Is Shoulder Impingement And What Really Causes It

It is not all your shoulder’s fault!

Okay, so what is shoulder impingement syndrome?

Shoulder impingement syndrome refers to the pain you feel in your shoulder when tendons get pinched and bursae get inflamed. This often involves a group of muscles around your shoulder called your “rotator cuff” muscles.

Take Cecile for example. She had been having pain in her right shoulder for several months. She did not remember injuring her shoulder at any time. The pain seemed to have started out of the blue.

Cecile had trouble lifting her arm up and putting on her jacket. Putting on her seatbelt was a struggle. It woke her up at night whenever she rolled onto her sides.

She finally had enough and got some help. After 5 treatments, her shoulder pain was much better and she was able to finally have a full nights sleep again.

Why Is My Shoulder Impingement Happening?

In a perfect world, there is no pain when you use your shoulder. You can reach for that coffee cup on the corner of your desk without wincing. Putting on your sweater takes no second thought. Throwing the stick for your dog is a breeze.

Neck exam

4 Common reasons how poor posture causes shoulder impingement syndrome

  1. When you slouch, your shoulder and head move forward which leads to your chest muscles or pecs tightening up
  2. As you slouch, the muscles in your back and shoulder blades are turned off. Over time, these muscles get weaker and eventually have a hard time supporting your back and shoulders the way they were designed to
  3. This combination of tight chest muscles and weak back and shoulder muscles leads to muscle imbalance
  4. Your shoulder relies on your back being flexible and mobile to move properly. When your upper back gets stiff because of poor posture, this puts more stress on your shoulder. Your shoulder now has to make up for your upper back being stiffer

Other causes of your shoulder impingement pain

  • Poor posture especially with your head forward puts more strain on your neck
  • With tightness and stiffness in your neck and muscles, this can irritate or compress the nerves coming out of your neck and down your shoulder and arm
  • Sports where you do the same movement over and over. For example, sports like swimming, golf and volleyball can wear down your shoulder over time
  • Having been in a car accident and dealing with nagging neck and upper back injuries can lead to shoulder problems later
Shoulder stretch

How Can I Treat Shoulder Impingement?

It is often easier to prevent a shoulder problem from starting than having to deal with it once it is here.

Part of your treatment of shoulder impingement syndrome should focus on prevention.

Your shoulder is the most complicated joint in your entire body. It can also be one of the hardest to fix.

A shoulder injury can bother you both when you use it as well as when you are not using it.

Want to get rid of your shoulder pain and get back to your enjoying your activities?

Here are 5 tips to help your shoulder impingement syndrome now

  1. Having good back support while you sit helps keep you in a better position. Try keeping your shoulders and head back so you do not end up slouching. Bring your shoulder blades back
  2. Check your desk set up and ergonomics. Have your desk and chair set to the right height for you. When you are working at your desk, you want your elbows to be bent to around 90o. Your hips and knees should also be at about 90o. Place your keyboard so that you can reach it easily while keeping your elbows by your side
  3. When you exercise, be sure to exercise your back and shoulder blade muscles as well
  4. Stretch your shoulder, biceps and pec muscles regularly as they tend to tighten up and put more strain on your shoulder
  5. Keep your chin tucked in a little. Having your chin stick out or pointed down such as when you are reading can put more strain on your neck and upper back. This then puts more stress on your shoulders as well
Neck exam

Hope For Your Shoulder Impingement Problem

As complicated a joint as it is, there is a lot you can do to help your shoulder problem. It is a common injury that can affect anyone from seniors to elite athletes.

From getting treatment, knowing what is good posture and doing the right exercises, you can improve your shoulder impingement.

As with Cecile, she was finally able to go about her day without her shoulder nagging at her. She could wash her hair and work at her desk again. With her physiotherapist, Cecile was given treatment to her shoulder. She was taught specific exercises to help her recover and prevent it from coming back.

I Need Help For My Shoulder

To get help for your shoulder pain, schedule an appointment with your physiotherapist:

FAQ

Q: What does shoulder impingement fee like?

A: Shoulder impingement can feel like an achy pain, soreness and sometimes sharp pain in or around your shoulder. It feels deep inside. You might feel pain in the front or the side of your shoulder muscle

Q: How do you treat shoulder impingement

A: Your physiotherapist can help by treating your shoulder, neck, upper back and any other areas that may be affecting your shoulder. Your treatment may also include exercises and postural tips

Q: Does shoulder impingement go away

A: Sometimes your shoulder pain may go away by itself. Often, you may need help. It can take a few months to heal your shoulder