What is Shoulder Impingement?

Dr Linda Schiller shoulder chiropracticShoulder impingement, also known as swimmer’s shoulder is a very common type of shoulder pain. It is commonly found in athletes that participate in sports that require frequent shoulder movement such as swimming, baseball and softball. Shoulder impingement is a condition where the space between your acromion (top of your shoulder) and head of humerus (upper arm bone) narrows when lifting your arm and compresses the rotator cuff muscles’ tendons. The rotator cuff muscles are a group of muscles that attach your humerus to your shoulder and they help you rotate your arm as well as lifting your arm up. Persisting shoulder impingement may lead to structural injury to your rotator cuff tendons such as rotator cuff tendinopathy or rotator cuff tear.

Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement

Common symptoms of shoulder impingement include:

  • Pain or clicking when putting your hand behind your back or head.
  • Pain reaching for the seat-belt or across your chest.
  • An arc of shoulder pain approximately when your arm is at shoulder height and/or when your arm is overhead.
  • Pain when lying on the sore shoulder.
  • Minor but constant pain in your arm.
  • Pain gets worse at night.
  • Shoulder pain at rest as your condition deteriorates.
  • Muscle weakness or pain when attempting to reach or lift.

Causes of Shoulder Impingement

The most common cause of shoulder impingement is the repeated movement of your arm in the following positions:

  • Your arm directly overhead
  • Your arm working at, through or near shoulder height
  • Rounded shoulder posture

Overuse of your arms in these positions may cause the tendons to swell up, leading them to “catch” on your acromion.

Who is at risk of having it?

People who participate in activities that require using their shoulders for overhead or forceful motion are most susceptible to shoulder impingement. Common activities that could cause this include swimming, tennis and baseball. Furthermore, occupations that require repeated arm movement or heavy lifting such as construction work, moving boxes and painting will also increase the risk of developing shoulder impingement. Old age and previous shoulder injuries could also play in a factor too.

Treatments

Dr Linda Schiller shoulder treatmentThere are various treatment options for shoulder impingement available, including home care, manual therapy, medication or surgery. However, the type of treatment you go for is usually depending on the severity of your condition.

Home Care

The most effective way to reduce further injury is to rest. Avoid any activities or movements that will worsen the pain. However, it is not recommended to use a sling to immobilise your arm completely as this might lead to more weakness and stiffness in your shoulder. If you would like to reduce any pain or swelling, try using an ice pack on your shoulder for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, a few times a day.

Manual Therapy

Manual therapist such as chiropractic has shown to improve shoulder impingement condition by utilising gentle exercises to rebuild strength and range of motion of your shoulder. They will conduct a few physical examination and history taking to better understand the cause of the impingement, then provide you with a personalised exercise programme that you can do in the comfort of your home. Furthermore, if you are an athlete of work is a field that requires frequent movement of your shoulder, your chiropractor can educate you with the proper technique that will minimise the chance of reoccurrence. Sports chiropractors may also use electrotherapy, mobilisation techniques, dry needling, low level laser and strapping to heal the body naturally.

Medication

Consuming over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen can help reducing shoulder pain and swelling. However, if the medication, along with ice and rest do not help, your doctor may prescribe steroid injections to help reducing swelling and pain.

Surgery

If none of the treatment mentioned above seem to work for you, you can choose to get a minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery that help widen the space around the rotator cuff. However, a recent study has questioned the benefit of removing parts of bone just for impingement.

At Lakeside Chiropractic, our trained and experienced chiropractors may assist you to recover from shoulder impingement as soon as possible. Lakeside Chiropractic is central to Perth’s northern suburbs including Woodvale, yoking, Jindalee, Wembley Downs, Kingsley, Padbury and Hilary’s and is located in the centre of Joondalup on 3/45 Central Walk. We have a HICAPS terminal on site which means you can claim direct from your health fund on the day of your treatment. We are a Medibank and BUPA preferred provider but we are also able to process claims from HBF, HIF, CU Health, health.com.au, ahm, Defence and Australian Unity Health. Here at Lakeside Chiropractic our staff are well trained and regularly see visitors who they are able to successfully treat. Please call us on 9300 0095 or on the website www.lakesidechiro.com.au via the Book Online Now tab.

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