Do you suspect that the nagging pain in your shoulder is due to a shoulder impingement?
You are not alone. This is not an uncommon problem! Impingement of the shoulder is seen a lot at physiotherapy clinics. In today’s post we share the steps you can take to get out of pain and to remedy the shoulder situation. First some background on the nature of the condition and what parts of your body play a role in the injury and the recovery.
A few years back, our patient Mike was suffering terribly from shoulder impingement. However, he had an uncommon shoulder injury. We chatted about how we were going to fix this problem and the steps we’d take forward at every visit. Then we sat down to discuss the plan to get well overall. Together, we designed a workout plan and a dietary plan. It worked! By the time Mike completed his customized program, his shoulder was better, in fact, it was more functional than before he first got injured. It was just a shoulder impingement, but in this case it’s impact was huge for Mike. He had disabled his shoulder. He was in pain and his quality of life, in terms of activity and daily function, significantly affected. That shoulder needed to be ‘fixed’. In Mike’s case we needed to address a lifestyle tune up that improved his overall condition while he recovered his shoulder function. So now Mike is back to doing the things in his life that he and his partner love to do. They're playing golf, tennis, and he’s back to the occasional basketball game with his friends, with no pain!
What causes shoulder impingement?
Your shoulder is made up of 3 bones:
the humerus (arm bone)
the scapula (shoulder blade)
the clavicle (collar bone)
The rotator cuff muscles are a group of muscles that attach the arm bone to the shoulder blade. Rotator cuff is a term you may have heard mentioned many times in relation to shoulders and shoulder injuries.
Your rotator cuff is made up of these muscles:
All these muscles help to raise your arm up and to rotate your arm. They also help to hold the arm bone in the socket of the shoulder blade throughout movement.
Now, the bursa is a small sac of fluid which helps cushion and lubricate your joints. It eases and enables smooth movement but If it should become inflamed, chances are you're going to experience intense pain when you move your shoulder. If this is the case, you're wise to meet with a professional physiotherapist who will guide you to learn proper stretches to help you regain your shoulder strength. A shoulder bursitis stretch is a great place to start.
There is not a lot of space between that bony acromion at the top of your shoulder and the arm bone (the head of the humerus). Usually there is enough space for the bursa and the tendons but sometimes with a lot of overhead movement those structures can get a bit irritated.
Your posture counts
When you slip into a habitual bad posture it can lead to a lot of different problems in the body. One of those problems is an impinged shoulder. To review, an impinged shoulder is when the tendons and muscles in the front of the shoulder are pinched in the shoulder joint. There are a few different things that can cause this, with one being bad posture. A lifestyle challenge we all have that affects modern posture, for example, is sitting in a chair all day with your shoulders pulled forward. This can pull on the tendons and muscles in the front of the shoulder. This can cause pinching in the tendon. It's important to correct your shoulder posture to avoid this. You can also protect your shoulder by wearing a shoulder brace.
If you don’t address the cause and work to repair it, you’ll find that every time you raise your arm or reach behind you or lie on that painful shoulder, you will feel some pain from those irritated tendons or bursa!
Again, this is a shoulder impingement.
Your physiotherapist can help you determine what caused the impingement in the first place.
These are some of the questions your physiotherapist will ask:
Have some of the muscles of the shoulder girdle gotten tight and is the arm bone not moving well in the socket?
Is there pain in the shoulder that worsens with time, or pain that worsens when you reach above your head?
Do you have pain that gets better as your arm is brought to your side? Do you feel warmth in the shoulder joint?
Are you experiencing a decrease in the range of motion of the shoulder joint? Is there swelling around the shoulder joint?
How do you know if you have an impingement of the shoulder?
You will directly experience some common symptoms if you are suffering with shoulder impingement. They can include:
Pain when reaching up
Pain gets better when your arm is brought to your side.
Warmth in the shoulder joint.
Decrease in the range of motion of the shoulder joint.
Talk to a physiotherapist about your painful shoulder to confirm whether or not you have shoulder impingement. There are very specific tests that they will do to determine the cause of your painful shoulder.
Your physiotherapist will then be able to help you set up an effective plan of care to fix your impingement of the shoulder!
These are the steps to take that will decrease our pain as your shoulder is fixed. The steps may minimize or entirely eliminate your shoulder impingement pain.
Step 1: Stop ALL activities that cause or increase your pain!
Seems pretty simple doesn’t it? If it hurts, don’t do it.
If you find that you have shoulder pain, then it is important for you to consider all the ways you are using your shoulder and eliminate any behaviors that may be causing your shoulder pain. The first thing you need to do is stop doing anything that hurts your shoulder. It is important to stop any exercises that you do if they cause pain. It is also important to stop any of your daily tasks that cause pain. For example, if you have pain when you lift your arm, then you shouldn't lift anything with your arm.
Step 2: Reduce inflammation
Reducing inflammation is an effective way to improve overall health and immunity. It's extra vital to reduce inflammation if you have an injury or disease. It can be difficult to understand how to reduce inflammation, but there are a few effective ways in your power.
To reduce inflammation, stop eating foods that are processed and rich in saturated fat. Replace them with foods that are rich in antioxidants and fiber. Antioxidants and fiber increase the amount of antioxidants to help clean out free radicals in the body. Free radicals have been associated with early aging and disease.
Step 3: Rest
One of the best ways to treat shoulder issues and to reduce pain is to get rest. Getting a good night's sleep every night will help immensely. It reduces day-to-day stress and helps prevent issues when lifting heavy things. It's also good to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms.
Shoulder impingement is a common and very painful condition that often leads to surgery, so prevention is important. Ice is a great way to prevent shoulder impingement, and it can also be used as a treatment. Ice helps to reduce inflammation, which is the cause of shoulder impingement. Shoulder impingement is caused by inflammation created when the rotator cuff tendons and bursa rub against the acromion bone. The best way to use ice is to apply it right after an activity. You can use a cold pack, ice tub or other cold source.
So...Can I really get rid of my shoulder impingement?
In most cases, shoulder impingements can be cured. One of the ways to get immediate and temporary relief and to eliminate shoulder impingements is through the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. Some of the most popular ones are: ibuprofen, aspirin, etc. These are available over the counter. If the pain is a constant issue, you might want to get a doctor's prescription for stronger medications. These might include: steroids, ketorolac, etc. These will eliminate the pain by reducing inflammation in the joint and soft tissues.
Your best plan is still prevention and a proper consultation with a physiotherapist who can assess your personal physical situation. From there they can help with exercises, treatments and lifestyle adjustments to give you long lasting relief and to avoid further injuries in future.
If you’re experiencing pain or stress now, call us directly at 250-897-0069 or BOOK ONLINE. Alternatively, please use the CONTACT US page to request help with services or booking. We are here to help you.