Shoulder impingement syndrome is the condition that results in pain and swelling of the shoulder area due to tear and degeneration of the rotator cuff. In sports persons, overhead use of the arms results in rubbing of the rotator cuff with the acromion leading to tears and degeneration. Although, such impingement happens to everyone during our daily lives, continuous and repeated impingement results in pain and swelling. This condition is widely reported in athletes involved in repetitive overhead use of the arm such as baseball. Swimmers and tennis players also report with this condition frequently.
What are the indicators of shoulder impingement syndrome?
In the early stages of shoulder impingement syndrome, you will start to experience some dull aches in the shoulder region, which would usually remain unnoticed. If you tend to use your hand overhead, it will start to stir pain at the shoulder area. Over the course of time, you will start to feel weakness in your affected arm and you may be unable to perform regular activities with the hand affected.
How is shoulder impingement identified?
One of the clear cut physical sign to establish the presence of shoulder impingement syndrome is look for pain when your arm is forcibly forward flexed. You will also experience significant pain when try to reach out to your back pocket using your hand. Apart from this, your physio may ask questions about your profession and the types of activities that you engage in daily because repeated overhead use of hand is the main cause of impingement syndrome.
How is shoulder impingement syndrome managed with physiotherapy?
Just like in any other orthopedic injuries, rest in combination with therapy is an important aspect of physiotherapy if you have shoulder impingement syndrome. You need to provide ample rest to the affected shoulder in order for the healing process to kick in. Non-inflammatory medications and icing would help you to reduce the pain and swelling significantly.
Once the pain and swelling are reduced to a satisfactory level, you will be started on certain physio exercises regimen based on your needs. You will immediately be started on mild stretching and strengthening exercises to your rotator cuff and shoulder. Stretching exercises are used to restore the normal range of motion to the shoulder. Issues with shoulder alignment and posture are resolved at this stage. Strengthening exercises will help the rotator cuff the move in the socket without impinging the acromion. This will prevent repeat incidents. In most cases, you will be able to return to normal daily life within 4-6 weeks.
How physiotherapy helps after surgery for impingement syndrome?
In some rare circumstances, such as a full rotator cuff tear, you may need surgical corrective measures to regain full functionality of your shoulder. As you might expected, you will need to wear a sling in order to protect the shoulder underwent surgery for several weeks. Physiotherapy and rehabilitation after the surgery is a long and slow process. Our immediate attention after your surgery would be to bring down pain and swelling in the area so that you can be started on strengthening and stretching exercises. However, you may need to wait up to 2 weeks before we can start you on mild exercises. You will be advised about the correct posture to prevent further impingements and stretching exercises will bring back the full range of motion. You may start doing exercises by your own within 4-6 weeks after the surgery or as recommended by the physiotherapist. We will also analyze your athletic shoulder movements and recommend to you modifications so that less pressure is applied on the rotator cuff and acromion to prevent repeat impingements.
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