Shoulder pain is an extremely common complaint among patients of all ages.
The shoulder is composed of three bones, the scapula (shoulder blade), collarbone (clavicle) and the upper arm bone (humerus). With so many structures within the shoulder, it can be extremely vulnerable to injury!
Shoulder impingement results when the front of the shoulder blade (acromion) rubs against the rotator cuff, whenever a person lifts his or her arm. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles, which enables the shoulder to stay firmly in place, and allows a patient to lift and rotate their arm. Whenever there is injury to the rotator cuff, serious pain and weakness can result, which should be treated as soon as possible!
Shoulder impingement is extremely common among young athletes, and active middle-aged adults. Repeatedly lifting weights, or repetitive overhead motions of the arm, often place a person at risk for this condition. Impingement pain may also result due to any minor injury. The condition gradually becomes worse with time, and is typically defined by difficulties reaching overhead, behind the back, and weakness in the shoulder muscles.
Shoulder impingement is diagnosed following a physical examination, and a thorough assessment of the patient’s medical history. X-rays should also be taken to rule out other conditions, such as arthritis. Rest and oral anti-inflammatory medications are usually recommended to treat the condition. Caution should be used since medications can often cause side-effects such as irritation, and bleeding.
Other treatment methods for the condition will include daily exercises to help relieve one’s symptoms, and physical therapy. If your symptoms continue, despite the use of medication, cortisone injections may be helpful for relieving pain. If any pain or weakness continues, an MRI or ultrasound must be performed to rule out the possibility of a torn rotator cuff. Finally, if the rotator cuff is torn, surgical intervention may be necessary.