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  • Emma B

Shoulder Impingements: Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Shoulder impingements are a common condition that can cause pain and disability. The shoulder is a complex joint that is made up of bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. These structures work together to allow the shoulder to move in a wide range of motion. However, this also makes the shoulder susceptible to injury.

Shoulder impingements can be caused by a number of factors, including repetitive motions, poor posture, and muscle imbalances. Treatment typically involves a combination of rest, ice, and physical therapy. Surgery is rarely necessary.

If you are experiencing shoulder pain, it is important to see a doctor to rule out other potential causes, such as a rotator cuff tear or arthritis. However, there are also a number of things you can do to prevent shoulder impingements from occurring in the first place.

What can cause shoulder impingements?

The most common cause of shoulder impingements is repetitive overhead motions of the arm, such as those often seen in athletes. However, other causes, such as poor posture and muscle imbalances can also lead to shoulder impingements.

Which type do I have?

Knowing the anatomy of the shoulder is important for understanding how it works and for diagnosing and treating shoulder injuries. The bones of the shoulder include the humerus (upper arm bone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the clavicle (collarbone). The muscles that move the shoulder include the deltoid, rotator cuff, and trapezius. The ligaments and tendons help to stabilize the shoulder joint.

Here is a breakdown below to determine which one you may have if you are suffering with shoulder pain. This may not be the cause of your shoulder pain, and it is important to seek medical advice.

An MRI will be able to help determine if there is any other issues that may be causing the shoulder pain, which is available at MSKdoctors.

What treatments are available?

There are many methods that can be used to treat and reduce pain from these impingements. Non-operative methods are always used first and surgery is the last resort.

Firstly, physical therapy is a critical component for non-operative methods of treatment. Due to most causes of impingements being due to overuse and muscle imbalance, this can be restored with exercise prescription. Exercises given to you may include stretching over-dominant muscles like pectorals (chest) and strengthening exercises for the muscles around the scapula like, scapula squeeze, scapula push and pull and internal rotation with resistance. These will allow for the shoulder to move back into the correct position due to the muscle imbalance causing the poor posture.

If this does not work, to reduce pain injections may be on offer, like steroid or cortisone.

The injections with a combination of physical therapy have shown to reduce the chances of needing surgical intervention.

Lastly, if all else has failed, surgical intervention may be needed. This will be done through arthroscopy (keyhole surgery), which will involve cutting the ligament and shaving away part of the prominence, aiming to increase any space that is needed.

Overall, shoulder pain occurs very often within the general and athletic population, normally caused by an impingement syndrome. It is important to seek your GP or to visit a medical professional to discuss a diagnosis and then treatment methods for you. This is all available at MSKdoctors.

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