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What is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

The main shoulder joint is made up of the upper humerus (upper arm) and the glenoid fossa on the scapula (shoulder blade), the rotator-cuff is a group of 4 muscles that surround the joint to aide its stability. These muscles pass through the space between the shoulder joint and the clavicle (collarbone) above it. This area is called the ‘sub-acromial space’ and the ‘sub-acromial’ bursa also resides here. During shoulder movements, particularly overhead, this space is reduced. For various reasons, the structures in the Sub-Acromial Space can become impinged, and this can be a cause of pain and decreased range of movement.

What caused my Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

The shoulder can become impinged from a few different causes. Initially, it was thought that that impingement was always due to changes in the bony shape of the acromion process. It can also be caused by thickening of soft tissue structures in the sub-acromial space, like; rotator-cuff tendons and bursae. Biomechanical impairments can also decrease the sub-acromial space and contribute to Sub-Acromial Impingement. Your physiotherapist will be able to conduct a through assessment to determine what might be the most likely cause.

Can my Shoulder Impingement Syndrome be treated?

Yes, shoulder impingement syndrome is very treatable. Your physiotherapist will complete a thorough assessment of your shoulder impingement and how it as affecting your life. You will then be provided with a personalised treatment plan. Typically, this will involve techniques to settle your shoulder pain and improve your range of movement. Your physiotherapist will also address your biomechanics in order to increase the area in your sub-acromial space and prevent this from recurring in the future.

What should I do to avoid aggravating my Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

  • AVOID overhead activities, particularly during the acute phase.
  • DO concentrate on maintaining good posture
  • Talk to your pharmacist about using non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
  • REMAIN ACTIVE, but avoid aggravating activities.
  • RECEIVE physiotherapy care to get your joints, ligaments and muscles are performing to their optimum level

Keep good care of your body and your physiotherapist will continue to monitor your condition. Once your Shoulder Impingement Syndrome has resolved you will be able to resume your full activities without worrying about future flare-ups.

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