Shoulder pain is a common complaint that can severely affect both fitness activity and day-to-day functions. Patients may complain of an ache in the upper arm, anterior shoulder pain, and/or pain that correlates with specific arm movements that are performed throughout the day. A common diagnosis given to shoulder pain is “impingement.” Shoulder impingement is classically defined as irritation of the structures within the subacromial space of the shoulder. These structures may include the muscles/tendons of the rotator cuff (a group of muscles that create forces for controlled movements of the upper extremity) or the bursa of the shoulder (lubricating sacs of fluid between moving structures). Patients may experience difficulty lying on the affected arm for sleeping, dressing, tucking in a shirt behind the back, reaching overhead, quick motions of the arm, washing hair and lifting.
Shoulder impingement can be caused by a myriad of factors. Overhead sports, repetitive shoulder use at work, poor workplace ergonomics, strength imbalances, poor flexibility of the upper quarter, biomechanical joint dysfunction, poor strength of the scapular stabilizers and/ or poor posture may contribute to impingement. Commonly, it is a combination of several of these factors that produce pain and dysfunction. It is important to consult a health care professional to evaluate the specific cause of shoulder pain. This is due to the fact that the spine can contribute to symptoms experienced in the shoulder or upper extremity. A physician or physical therapist can evaluate and assist in ruling out cervical involvement.
Typically, shoulder pain is managed conservatively. The physician may recommend anti-inflammatory medication and/or physical therapy. Physical therapy may include an evaluation to determine the cause/s of the pain and to develop a treatment plan to address the cause of symptoms.
Krissy Temporiti, MPT, ATC, CMT and Daphne R. Scott, MSPT, OCS, ATC, Cert. MDT are on staff at Athletico/Bucktown For more information go to athletico.com.