A few weeks ago, you had some increased pain in your shoulder after doing some work in your yard. After trying to give it some time to heal on its own, you noticed the pain becoming worse. You saw an orthopedic surgeon, who diagnosed you with shoulder impingement.
This sounds scary to some. Essentially, it means soft tissue (muscle, tendons, ligaments, or bursa) in your shoulder is very irritated. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint, a lot like a golf ball sitting on a tee. The humeral head is like the ball and the glenoid is like the tee. Your glenoid is part of your shoulder blade. Another piece of your shoulder blade, the acromion, sits above the humeral head.
When you put dishes away in an upper cabinet, the humeral head moves. In an ideal world, it is pain free, however with impingement, you will get a painful arc of motion: meaning that while elevating your arm, there is pain somewhere from 60 – 120 degrees of motion. The shoulder has a total arc of motion from 0 – 180 degrees.
That soft tissue of your shoulder that sits above the humeral head and below the acromion, gets pinched. You are basically squeezing soft tissue between two bones. Often this soft tissue is your rotator cuff. If this occurs over and over again, it becomes really irritated and inflamed. Your doctor may suggest a cortisone injection or PT, or a combination of both often works well together.
How can PT help? Reducing irritation and restoring your range of motion is our first priority. With this, your pain will reduce, however some activities may still be aggravating it. Improving the strength and function of your rotator cuff, as well as other muscles can restore the normal biomechanics of the shoulder, allowing for pain free motion. If PT does not help, your doctor may recommend an MRI.
If you have any questions regarding shoulder impingement or other shoulder issues, please contact us.