How do you overcome shoulder impingement?

Answered by Jason Smith

Shoulder impingement syndrome is a common condition characterized by pain and limited range of motion in the shoulder. It occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff become pinched or compressed between the bones of the shoulder joint. Overcoming shoulder impingement involves a combination of rest, pain management, strengthening exercises, and modifying activities that aggravate the condition.

1. Rest: Giving your shoulder adequate rest is crucial in allowing the inflammation to subside. Avoid activities that worsen the pain or put strain on the shoulder joint. This may include avoiding overhead movements or heavy lifting.

2. Ice: Applying ice to the affected shoulder can help reduce pain and inflammation. Use an ice pack wrapped in a thin cloth and apply it to the shoulder for 15-20 minutes several times a day, especially after activities that exacerbate the symptoms.

3. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation. Follow the recommended dosage and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any underlying medical conditions or concerns.

4. Steroid injections: In some cases, a healthcare professional may recommend a corticosteroid injection to reduce inflammation and provide temporary pain relief. These injections are typically performed under guidance using imaging techniques to ensure accurate placement.

5. Physical therapy: Physical therapy is a crucial treatment for shoulder impingement syndrome. A physical therapist will assess your condition and develop a personalized exercise program to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint, improve range of motion, and correct any underlying biomechanical issues. This may include exercises targeting the rotator cuff muscles, shoulder stabilizers, and posture correction.

6. Posture correction: Poor posture can contribute to shoulder impingement syndrome. Correcting posture habits and maintaining proper alignment of the shoulder joint can help alleviate symptoms. A physical therapist can provide guidance on posture correction techniques and exercises to improve shoulder alignment.

7. Activity modification: Modifying activities that exacerbate shoulder impingement is essential for recovery. Avoid repetitive overhead movements, heavy lifting, or activities that require excessive shoulder strain. If necessary, modify your work environment or use assistive devices to reduce stress on the shoulder joint.

8. Gradual return to activity: Once symptoms improve and strength and range of motion are restored, gradually reintroduce activities that previously caused pain. Start with low-impact exercises and gradually increase intensity and load over time. Always listen to your body and avoid overexertion.

9. Ongoing maintenance and prevention: Once you have overcome shoulder impingement, it is important to continue exercises and stretches to maintain shoulder strength and flexibility. This can help prevent future flare-ups. Additionally, maintaining good posture and avoiding repetitive activities that strain the shoulder can minimize the risk of recurrence.

In my personal experience, I have dealt with shoulder impingement syndrome and found physical therapy to be incredibly beneficial. The exercises and stretches prescribed by my physical therapist helped improve my shoulder strength, reduce pain, and restore my range of motion. It is important to be consistent with the exercises and follow the guidance of the healthcare professionals involved in your treatment.

Remember, every individual is unique, and it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. They can provide specific guidance based on your condition and any underlying factors.