Shoulder Impingement Syndrome Physical Therapy

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

There are many times in life when we may need physical therapy. Sometimes physical therapy is the obvious choice. Other times, it may be something that we didn’t quite think we needed at first, but having physical therapy made all the difference in our recovery! Physical therapy can help boost your confidence and restore your independence.
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Physical therapy has proven to be very beneficial in helping shoulder injuries and conditions, including shoulder impingement syndrome.

At Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow, we specialize in helping those who have shoulder impingement syndrome. We are conveniently located in Atlanta and Marietta, GA, and offer many nonsurgical treatment options, including physical therapy. If you suspect this condition may be the cause of your pain, give us a call so that we can provide you with the help you need.

What Is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

Shoulder impingement syndrome (also known as subacromial syndrome) is a condition in which the repetitive cycle of your rotator cuff rubbing between your upper arm (humerus) and the outer tip of your shoulder (acromion) causes irritation and pain.

Your rotator cuff tendons and bursa (a fluid-filled sac that provides a cushion between the rotator cuff tendon and acromion) are located beneath the acromion. This repetitive rubbing leads to more swelling, causing the space between the rotator cuff and acromion to become more narrow.

With less space available, it is easier for the acromion to rub against or “impinge on” the muscles and tendons. If your muscles and tendons are not able to slide easily, they can get pinched or compressed beneath the acromion, resulting in pain.

Shoulder impingement syndrome develops when your rotator cuff tendons are injured or overused. It can also be the result of poor posture. Shoulder impingement is very common, and the pain you experience can come on gradually or very suddenly.

Signs of Shoulder Impingement

If you are experiencing shoulder impingement, you may want to keep the following signs in mind. You may feel that you have:

  • Restricted shoulder motion
  • Shoulder pain/weakness in your everyday movement patterns (reaching overhead, to the side, or behind you)
  • Pain when participating in sports or activities that require throwing motions or other vigorous movement patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping on the side that has the injury due to pain and discomfort

 

How Can a Physical Therapist Diagnose Shoulder Impingement?

First, your occupational therapist will review your medical history and thoroughly evaluate your injury. Your evaluation may include:

  • Performing strength and motion tests
  • Performing tests that involve gentle movements to see which tendons have been injured
  • Evaluating your posture
  • Checking to see if there are any muscle imbalances and weaknesses that have occurred between your shoulder and your scapular muscles

 

Our occupational therapists, or physical therapists, will want to know about any pain and additional symptoms you may be experiencing. You may also be asked about your job duties and hobbies. This may seem like a random question; however, it is very helpful in creating a specific personalized treatment plan so that you can continue to do the things you love and accomplish your work-related duties.  

Additionally, x-rays may also be taken to rule out or identify other conditions that could be contributing to your pain.

How a Physical Therapist Can Treat Shoulder Impingement

A physical therapist can help you properly treat your shoulder impingement by:

  • Treating and healing your injury before secondary conditions occur, such as your bursa becoming irritated, the onset of rotator cuff tendonitis, or rotator cuff tearing.
  • Delaying or possibly even eliminating the need for surgery.
  • Using their expertise and many years of experience treating shoulder impingement to further educate you about your condition.
  • Developing a stretching and exercising program that is specifically tailored for you.
  • Identifying movements that cause pain and showing you ways in which you can avoid them. If your posture is the reason for your shoulder impingement, they will show you practical ways to correct your posture.
  • Using manual therapy techniques to encourage your shoulder to move properly, including gentle joint movements and soft tissue massages.
  • Teaching you various range of motion exercises that will guide your shoulders and shoulder blades to move correctly. These stretches will prepare and strengthen you to begin reaching and lifting again without pain.

 

Our occupational therapists at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow are ready to help, and our offices are conveniently located in Marietta and Atlanta, GA. Having a nonsurgical treatment option to treat shoulder impingement syndrome is priceless!

Let us help you regain your independence. To see if you would be a good candidate, call one of our offices today!

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Harlan Starr, MD