What is shoulder impingement syndrome and how can UniquePhysio help?

Shoulder impingement is an umbrella term which essentially means structures are being trapped in your shoulder joint as you raise your arm. It can be quite painful for those who suffer from this condition and if not controlled or treated can lead to shoulder bursitis or rotator cuff muscle tears. These structures that become trapped can be the rotator cuff muscle tendons, or the bursa that is located in a small compartment in the shoulder joint.

Before we move on, I must explain what a bursa and a tendon is. A bursa is a small fluid filled sack that reduces the friction of movement in a joint. A tendon is a type of tissue which attaches a muscle directly to a bone. When both a bursa or tendon are irritated by being trapped in a confined space, they become inflamed and can cause pain.

So, why does this happen in the first place?

There are many factors that come into play as to why shoulder impingement can occur but let’s just focus on one. The humerus bone (the bone of the shoulder joint) sits in a joint called the glenohumeral joint. This joint is actually quite “unstable” as the shoulder has a large amount of movement it must be able to perform. For stability of the shoulder joint, muscles are used and it is a full-time job for them. This is mostly performed by the rotator cuff muscles.

Now, whenever I mention “rotator cuff muscles” it refers to four muscles which are located on the front and back of our shoulder blade and their role is to keep the humerus bone as stable as possible as the arm moves in all directions.

In the picture below the numbers 1-3 are the rotator cuff muscles that are located on the back of our shoulder blade.

In the picture below, the number 4 represents the rotator cuff muscle which is located at the front of our shoulder blade. The black outline represents the humerus bone and the yellow outline is the bursa which is located in our shoulder joint.

If the muscles which control and stabilise our shoulder joint are not functioning correctly, it can lead to the humerus moving more than it should and trapping structures that should usually freely move in the joint as the arm is moved. This causes irritation, pain and the inability for the shoulder to move as much as it should.

Can this be fixed?

Yes, most definitely. Here at Unique Physio our Physiotherapists or Exercise Physiologist will be able to assess your current condition and devise of a treatment plan which they will guide you through for the treatment of your unique shoulder impingement.

Do you have limited range of motion of your shoulder joint? Do you have pain in the shoulder after repetitive overhead activity?

If you answered yes, book in today and let us help you!

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