4 steps physical therapists can take to help fix a shoulder impingement

Fix Shoulder Impingement

Pain in your shoulder can be difficult to live with. It can prevent you from performing well at work, or from participating in sports or other activities you enjoy. If you are suffering from a shoulder impingement, you may find it impossible to perform everyday tasks without pain. A shoulder impingement occurs when the tendons in your shoulder rub against your bones. The pain often becomes worse when you attempt to lift your arm over your head, such as when reaching for an item on a shelf.

If left untreated, a shoulder impingement can grow worse, often leading to a rotator cuff tear or other damage to the muscles of the shoulder. Physical therapy can help treat your shoulder impingement before this happens.

What causes a shoulder impingement?

There are several reasons why you might be at risk of developing a shoulder impingement. Some of the most common are:

  • Playing sportsPlaying sports such as swimming require a lot of overhead motion. This type of motion may cause a shoulder impingement to develop. For this reason, shoulder impingement injuries are often referred to as “swimmer’s shoulder.”
  • Manual labor – Your job may require a lot of bending, lifting and carrying heavy loads. You may also be performing repetitive motions at work, such as moving a paint roller up and down. Any of these factors could put you at greater risk of developing a shoulder impingement. 
  • Previous injury – If you’ve experienced a shoulder injury in the past, such as a dislocated shoulder, it could contribute to a greater risk of shoulder impingement.

How can physical therapy help fix a shoulder impingement?

There are many steps a licensed physical therapist can use to help you recover from a shoulder impingement. Some of these steps can also help prevent other injuries from happening. Here are some of the steps your physical therapist may take.

  1. Determining the source of your pain — Your physical therapy specialist will locate the source of your pain and discomfort. They may measure your mobility and range of motion using a goniometer. Your physical therapist may also use other instruments to help them pinpoint which muscle is causing you pain. From there, they can determine an effective course of action to treat your shoulder impingement.
  1. Manual therapy — Physical therapists can employ manual therapy techniques to reduce the tension in your shoulder and strengthen the muscles. This not only relieves pain and restores flexibility, but can also help prevent further injury to your shoulder.
  1. Dry needling — The purpose of dry needling therapy is to stimulate the muscles in your affected shoulder, reducing inflammation, stiffness and pain. It is often used in areas where manual stimulation is unable to reach the affected muscle.
  1. Functional capacity evaluation — If your injury has been preventing you from working, your physical therapy specialist can perform a functional capacity evaluation to see when you will be able to return to your normal routine. They will recommend levels of activity based on how well you have recovered. They will also let you know what accommodations should be made to help you recover fully while you return to work.

Is your shoulder pain preventing you from returning to your usual routine? It may be time to turn to a licensed physical therapist for relief. Our team at Armor Physical Therapy is ready to help fix your shoulder impingement and get you back to doing the things you enjoy.

Contact us today for more information about treatment for a shoulder impingement or to schedule an initial appointment. 

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