Swimmers shoulder is an umbrella term for subacromial impingement syndrome or tendinitis of the rotator cuff and bicep muscles. The movement of abduction of the shoulder leads to a chronic irritation upon the humeral head and rotator cuff muscles on the coracoacromial arch. Generally swimmers shoulder is caused by overuse of the shoulder joint and the muscles surrounding it and produces pain that’s often localised, however can spread up to the neck or down to the forearm.

Symptoms of swimmers shoulder include:

  • Decreased range of movement of the shoulder
  • Increased joint laxity
  • Tenderness over the shoulder joint
  • Localized pain is felt in the affected part of the shoulder
  • Shoulder strength is decreased
  • Pain may extend to the neck and/or down the arm in some cases
  • Pain worsens while resting on the affected shoulder

Diagnosis of swimmers shoulder can be in the form of x-rays and other imaging techniques to assess the changes in the alignment of the shoulder joint. Doctors may assess the condition through a physical examination of the shoulder joints ranges of motion by attempting different arm movements, looking for any abnormalities in particular a “lazy arm” where the elbow can’t be lifted. It could also be through a range of orthopaedic tests, for example; if a subacromial impingement has occurred the following tests can be used:

  • Passive and active painful arc- Where the arm is lifted above the ear to the point of pain
  • Neer impingement test- shoulder is internally rotated and lifted from side to above the ear on a 45o angle.
  • Hawkins-kennedy test- the examiner elevates the arm to 90 degrees of abduction and forces the shoulder into internal rotation, grinding the cuff under the subacromial arch.

Treatment for swimmers shoulder can be in the form of conservative care including rest, ice, heat, strapping and bracing as well as taking anti-inflammatory medications, exercise modification, dry needling, stretching and surgical repair in severe cases. Management of shoulder pain can also be in the form of Chiropractic treatment.

Chiropractic treatment may consist of:

  • Manipulation- helps to relieve the pain symptoms by freeing up the joint and increasing its range of motion
  • Interferential Stimulation, dry needling & soft tissue therapy can be used in conjunction with each other to inhibit spasms within the muscles surrounding the Glenohumeral joint
  • Cold Laser Therapy- improves blood and oxygen circulation around the affected area and works to reduce inflammation allowing the joint and muscles surrounding them to function as normal

Treatment of swimmers shoulder via chiropractic treatment generally lasts approximately 20 minutes in duration with the appointments consisting of either/all of the different therapies as mentioned above. Sessions of 2-3x per week are recommended to gain the maximum advantage from the treatment and the amount of sessions needed depend on the severity of the injury. They could range from 5-15 sessions depending on the amount of area that’s affected.

Swimmers shoulder is a common condition in athletes who are constantly and repetitively using the same joint over and over again when completing the same tasks day in day out. It is very common in Olympic swimmers as the joints activated throughout most days, however can be treated generally very quick. At Lakeside Chiropractic our trained staff have expertise in managing shoulder pain and returning their patients back to normal functioning in the shortest time possible.

Lakeside Chiropractic is located a five minute walk from the Joondalup shopping centre on 3/45 Central Walk and has visitors from all over the Perth region, in particular northern suburbs. We have HICAPS in our clinic which caters for the majority of health funds including, HBF, NIB, AHM, HIF and are a BUPA and Medibank preferred providers. If you would like to discuss your condition or book in an appointment by talking to our very friendly receptionists, fell free to contact us on 93000095 or visit our website at www.lakesidechiro.com.au and book via our ‘book now’ tab.

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