What is Shoulder Impingement?
Most common amongst swimmers, shoulder impingement is also known as swimmer’s shoulder. It is also commonly seen amongst softball and baseball players, as it is a result of repeated stress on the shoulder.
Shoulder impingement occurs when two parts of the shoulder rub against each other: the group of tendons and muscles that are involved with rotating the arm known as the rotator cuff, and the top of the shoulder known as the acromion. Tucked in directly underneath the acromion, the rotator cuff can painfully rub against the acromion if the arm is rotated too much.
Shoulder Impingement Symptoms
Individuals experiencing shoulder impingement report sudden sharp pain in their shoulder whenever they raise their arm above their head or rotate it backwards. They also report:
– Weakness of the arm and shoulder
– Worsening of the pain at night
– Pain that seems to travel from the top of the shoulder to the forearm
– Constant, dull ache in the arm
Shoulder Impingement Causes
By using the rotator cuff too much, these tendons and muscles can swell, causing them to rub against the upper shoulder bone. Overuse leading to inflammation is the only known cause for shoulder impingement.
How is Shoulder Impingement treated?
Physical therapy has a high success rate of treating shoulder impingement. With gentle exercises and stretches, a physical therapist will work with the patient to increase the range of motion and strength in their arm and shoulder, as well as foundational strength in the chest.