Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
Impingement syndrome
Impingement syndrome is an irritation of the structures between the upper portion of your arm and your shoulder blade mainly during overhead arm movements.The rotator cuff is comprised of four muscles that help position the humerus, your upper arm bone, into the shoulder socket during arm movement.The shoulder has great mobility but at the same time is prone to injury during falls or accident, or when there is a lack of motor control (altered biomechanics).Men over 40 performing manual labour are the most affected with this condition. It is also present in young athletes practicing sports involving repeated overhead motion such as swimming, baseball or tennis.

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Structures involved

The tendons of the rotator cuff, ligaments of your shoulder and subacromial bursa are the most commonly affected structures. The subacromial space gets smaller during overhead movements. This can cause, over time, irritation, inflammation and/or a lesion of the rotator cuff tendons.

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Signs & Symptoms that you may experience

Everyone will react differently after an injury and recovery will depend on the severity of it.

Impingement syndrome can cause but is not limited to, pain at the front of the shoulder and localized swelling. Pain or tightness is often felt when you lift your arm overhead or when you lower it from an elevated position. Pain can also be felt around your shoulder blade in your back.

Other early symptoms can include light pain with activities or during rest and in some cases, irradiating pain around your shoulder. In severe cases, you might feel pain at night and a loss of strength or range of motion. Impingement syndrome can lead to rotator cuff tendinitis or shoulder bursitis when left untreated.

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Recovery

Your rehabilitation plan, health, fitness & nutritional status will affect recovery speed. Most of the time, you can expect to recover fully from impingement syndrome. As a rule of thumb, this condition can take up to three months to fully recover.

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▶ WHAT TO DO

Early Stage

Relative rest is a good way to protect your shoulder and prevent further damage, but it’s important to avoid overprotecting your injury. A few days rest where you avoid pain-inducing movement and activities might be necessary. A quick but progressive return to your activities of daily living, light cardiovascular exercise and specific range of motion and strengthening exercises will allow better recovery.

Rehabilitation

Follow your practitioner’s advice. It will help you manage the different phases of the recovery process and will increase the likelihood of successful rehabilitation. Your practitioner will assist you during your rehabilitation program in order to regain your normal range of motion, strength and endurance, optimal motor control and functional status.

As per the principles of rehabilitation for impingement syndrome, movement training through therapeutic exercises is an important part of functional recovery. A progressive exercise program performed over a few weeks period is pretty standard.

▶ WHAT TO AVOID

Don’t rely on passive treatment only. Each phase of the rehabilitation process is important. Patients that are actively involved in their treatment plan tend to recover faster. Keep in mind that pain is not always a good indicator of tissue damage. As soon as you feel better and the pain is well managed in collaboration with your therapist, you should reintroduce light strengthening exercises as tolerated.

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