What is Impingement Syndrome?
Impingement Syndrome, which is sometimes called Swimmer shoulder or Throwers Shoulder, is caused by the tendons of the rotator cuff (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis muscles) becoming irritated and inflamed as they pass through a narrow bony space called the Subacromial Space, so called because it is under the arch of the acromion. This can lead to thickening of the tendon which may cause further problems because there is very little free space, so as the tendons become larger, they are impinged further by the structures of the shoulder joint and the muscles themselves.
Impingement Syndrome in itself is not a diagnosis, it is a clinical sign. There are at least NINE different diagnoses which can cause impingement syndrome.
The symptoms of impingement syndrome include pain at the front and/or side of the shoulder joint with overhead activity such as throwing, front crawl swimming and when the arm is held out to the side (abducted) and turned outwards (external rotation). Pain often eases as the arm reaches full flexion or abduction and is worst between 80 and 120 degrees - this is known as a painful arc. There is rarely a tender area to touch as the impingement occurs within the joint.
Treatment should initially focus on easing pain and inflammation with ice, rest and anti-inflammatory meds (check with your Doctor). After this, once pain is easing, address the factors which have caused the impingement. Poor posture, with rounded shoulders and winged scapula is a common cause. Stretching the chest muscles and strengthening the scapula stabilisors should help.ÃÂ
Ice packs or wraps for the shoulder are great for cooling the shoulder joint and its muscles and tendons, whilst also applying compression to reduce pain and swelling.