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It could happen when you are doing up your seatbelt in the car. Reaching for your wallet could also be a trigger. Shoulder pain affects people from all walks of life, both young and old, and can arrive seemingly without warning or reason. One of the most common reasons for shoulder pain is shoulder impingement, a condition that will persist without correction or treatment. Despite identifying it, many people simply give their pain the ‘cold shoulder’. You don’t have to live with pain – there are a number of ways to recognise and treat shoulder impingement.

What is shoulder impingement?

Shoulder impingement occurs when the delicate, soft tissues in the top of the shoulder get pinched as the arm is moved. This results in pain when certain movements involving the shoulder are performed.

What does shoulder impingement feel like?

  • Pain extending from the top of the shoulder to the elbow
  • Pain on lifting the arm out to the side above shoulder level
  • Pain when lying on the affected shoulder
  • A feeling of weakness in the arm
  • Pain when reaching across or behind your body e.g. reaching for your seat belt, reaching behind your back to do up clothing

What causes shoulder impingement?

  • Weakness and lack of control in the rotator cuff
  • Poor posture in the neck and shoulder
  • Repetitive overhead movements
  • Weakness of the muscles around the shoulder blade

What can I do about shoulder impingement?

Continuing to work or train as normal will only prolong your shoulder pain, and regular strengthening or stretching routines may worsen the problem. Correction of a shoulder impingement requires specialised retraining of the muscles. It is therefore essential that you consult a musculoskeletal physiotherapist to prescribe an individualised program to enable you to function without shoulder pain.

Your physio can provide:

  • A thorough examination to determine the root cause of your pain
  • Hands-on treatment
  • Appropriate mobility and strengthening exercises to retrain the muscles
  • Advice on the modification of work and home activities, ergonomics, posture correction and technique correction (e.g. for sports).

Don’t give your pain the cold shoulder! Our physios are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of shoulder impingement, as well as a range of other musculoskeletal injuries and conditions.

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