Shoulder impingement

What is it?

Shoulder impingement is an irritation of a rotator cuff tendon within the shoulder. It’s also known as subacromial impingement syndrome.

There are two types of impingement

  1. Primary refers to structural changes within the shoulder joint – which causes a narrowing of the joint space and compression of your shoulder. These structural changes could be either a bony growth or an increase in the volume of soft tissue within your joint.
  2. Secondary is an imbalance of the shoulder musculature – usually the rotator cuff. This imbalance can cause certain ranges of motion to be painful.

What are the symptoms?

  • pain in the front and side of your shoulder
  • pain radiating down your arm
  • pain when you lift your arm
  • difficulty throwing or lifting objects overhead
  • difficulty putting your hand behind your back
  • reduced range of motion and strength

What’s the treatment?

Your shoulder joint is complex because of the significant range of motion it can produce. As a result, soft tissue work is unlikely to completely solve the issue. Instead we recommend a detailed rehab programme to improve the strength and stability of your joint.

Conservative management includes:

  • rest
  • anti-inflammatories
  • Physiotherapy
  • steroid injections

Physiotherapy will look to improve the range of motion within your shoulder – as well as increasing the strength of the rotator cuff and other muscles surrounding your shoulder. If the conservative management isn’t successful though, arthroscopic surgery may be considered.

What’s the prognosis?

It very much depends on how long the symptoms have been present.

Usually you’ll fully recover in about 3-6 months – but it can take up to a year. Though this may seem like a lengthy recovery, you should start to see some form of improvement after a couple of weeks. You can then slowly start to return to normal activities.

Do you think you have shoulder impingement?

If you’re experiencing the symptoms listed above, we can help! Feel free to book a Physio session or contact us for more information.

Get in touch with our Hampstead or Wimbledon clinic!