Impingement Syndrome

Further to my discussion of shoulder injuries, (noticing a theme here?)  today I want to talk about impingement syndrome.  Impin… What??!!

Here’s the short version:
Your shoulder hurts during part of the motion when you raise it up.  Read next week’s blog to find out how to fix it!

And the more technical version:
As the name suggests, structures of the shoulder joint are “impinged” or compressed.  In this case it is the tendons of the muscles that make up the rotator cuff.  These tendons pass through an already tight spot, and if there is any extra obstruction, they can get ‘caught’ underneath the bony extension on the front of your shoulder blade. This often results in a ‘painful arc’ when raising your arm forward.  As you lift your arm through the motion there is no pain at the start, but then intense pain is felt as you move through the halfway point.  As the arm gets near the vertical position the pain goes away again for the final part of the movement.  Sometimes the cause of this obstruction can be bony growths and irregularities, or inflammation and swelling of the tendons themselves.  Similar to frozen shoulder, treatment has been attempted using everything from anti-inflammatories to steroid injections to surgery – all without consistent, satisfactory results.  Why not try something much less invasive – which will lead us to next week’s blog post…

And the really technical version (read at your own risk!):
Impingement syndrome occurs when tendons from the rotator cuff muscles, particularly supraspinatus, become impinged in the subacromium space between the acromium process on the superior aspect of the scapula and the head of the humerus.  The resulting pain pattern includes exacerbation of symptoms between 60 and 120 degrees of forward elevation.  Causes may include but are not limited to tendon calcification, osteoarthritic spurring and subacromial bursa thickening.  Onset may be acute or insidious, and sometimes remains idiopathic.  The actual pathoaetiology is tenebrous at best.  Typical treatment regimens include rest and NSAID’s, Corticosteroid injections, or even orthoscopic surgery.  Additional explanation of alternative conservative therapy will be forthcoming in the subsequent blog post.

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1 Response to Impingement Syndrome

  1. Shauna Leavitt says:

    Thanks for including the simplified explanation for the pain I have been feeling in my shoulder. Can’t wait to read next week’s blog entry! I’ve got to get rid of the ache.

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