by Dr. Troy Vander Molen, PT, DPT
Do you experience shoulder pain when cleaning the house, playing catch, or doing yard work? Are activities that used to be easy and pain free now more difficult and uncomfortable? Is pain in your shoulder stopping you from doing something you love?
Don’t worry. Shoulder pain is one of the most common complaints and is often caused by a treatable condition called shoulder impingement.
Shoulder impingement occurs when the rotator cuff is pinched between your upper arm bone (humerus) and shoulder blade (scapula). There are four muscles in the shoulder that make up the rotator cuff. Their responsibility is to control and stabilize the upper arm bone during arm movement. If this system is not working appropriately, particularly when raising the arm, the upper arm bone can migrate upwards and the rotator cuff can be pinched under the top part of the shoulder blade (acromion). Localized pain can occur when the tendon or bursa becomes inflamed, called tendonitis/bursitis.
The number one risk factor for shoulder impingement is highly repetitive or sustained overhead activity. Your likelihood of experiencing shoulder pain increases with poor posture or a weak rotator cuff.
There are two scenarios where shoulder impingement frequently occurs:
- Athletic activities: Tennis, baseball, and volleyball players are particularly vulnerable for shoulder impingement due to the number of times their shoulder is lifted above their head.
- Workforce demands: Some jobs require workers to make repetitive movements with their hands above their heads. High exposure to this posture may cause a great deal of pain.
However, sometimes the cause of shoulder impingement is unknown. Over time, joint degeneration or rotator cuff weakness can contribute to these symptoms in any individual, regardless of the number of overhead activities you partake in.
Thankfully this condition is well understood and conservative care by a physical therapist can be quite effective. An evaluation at Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy will help you determine the specific underlying cause of your shoulder pain, as well as offer you solutions for how to get rid of your pain.
- Exercises to increase shoulder range of motion
- Improving strength in your rotator cuff
- Positioning your shoulder blade
- Improving your posture
As symptoms subside, your therapist will focus on the functional needs of your shoulder and get you back to doing the things you love without pain.
Watch this simple video try the tests on your own if you are experiencing any symptoms above. If the shoulder pain you experience is reproduced or increased, call Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy and begin your road to a healthier, happier, and more functional shoulder!