Shoulder impingement syndrome refers to the pain and limitation in shoulder movement, that arises due to compression of the tendons within the bones of the shoulder.
Shoulder impingement syndrome is characterized by the trapping of tendons, in the bones of the shoulder region. This leads to tendon damage, and shoulder pain, especially while raising or lowering the arm. Aging adults are more susceptible to such impingement. The treatment options include the use of anti-inflammatory and analgesic medicines, as well as physical therapy and rest.
The bones in the shoulder joint have a narrow space between them. When the tendons or bursa present in the shoulder get compressed or trapped in this space, it give rises to shoulder impingement syndrome.
The main factor that leads to this condition is rotator cuff tendonitis (inflammation of the rotator cuff). The rotator cuff passes through a space, which lies between the head of the upper arm bone, and the acromion (the outermost point of the shoulder blade). If this rotator cuff becomes inflamed, it may get squeezed between these two bones. This can be the result of acute trauma to the shoulders, repeated overhead work, excessive weightlifting, prolonged static arm positions, and lying on one particular arm every time, while sleeping.
The affected person may feel a lingering pain on the top, outer portion of the shoulder. A pang of pain may be experienced when the person tries to raise or lower the arm from an overhead position. The impingement can lead to shoulder weakness, and if left untreated, it can result in a rotator cuff tear. In some cases, rupture of the biceps muscles have also been noticed.
Anti-inflammatory medicines are usually prescribed for a period of about two months. However, administration of these drugs for a short period will only help to deal with the symptoms, and not the underlying cause of the condition. Hence, there is a high probability of recurrence, once the intake of medicines is stopped.
If the use of such drugs does not provide relief, cortisone-type injection (a potent anti-inflammatory medicine) may be prescribed. If the symptoms persist, tests may be recommended to assess rotator cuff tear, and surgery may be advised to treat the tear, if any.
Apart from medications, physical therapy and exercises are also recommended. Stretching activities like the weighted pendulum stretch, when performed in a warm shower, helps in relieving the symptoms.
Weighted Pendulum Stretch:
- Before beginning the exercise, let your shoulders relax.
- Stand upright, and keep the arms in a vertical position, close to the body.
- Now let your arms move in a swinging motion, front to back, and from side to side.
- Also, move your arms in small circles in each direction.
- Perform this stretching exercise without the use of any weights for about three to seven days. Thereafter, start using weights of 1-2 pounds, and increase the diameter of movements gradually.
This exercise must be supplemented with other exercises like muscle strengthening exercises, scapular squeezes, outward rotation exercises, etc . While performing such exercises, if you experience sharp shoulder pain, then consulting a health care provider should be the immediate step.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.