Shoulder Impingement Intervention

Shoulder impingement is a common condition that causes pain and reduced range of motion in the shoulder joint. It occurs when the rotator cuff tendons or the bursa (a fluid-filled sac that cushions the joint) become inflamed or compressed by the bony structures of the shoulder. Physical therapy is one of the main interventions for shoulder impingement, as it can help restore function, decrease pain, and prevent further injury.

Physical therapy for shoulder impingement may include various modalities, such as manual therapy, exercises, stretches, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, ice, or heat. The goals of physical therapy are to improve the mobility and strength of the shoulder joint, reduce inflammation and swelling, and correct any postural or biomechanical factors that may contribute to the impingement. Some examples of physical therapy exercises for shoulder impingement are:

  • Shoulder blade squeezes: This exercise helps to stabilize and retract the shoulder blades, which can improve the alignment and space of the shoulder joint. To perform this exercise, stand or sit with your back straight and your arms relaxed at your sides. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you are trying to hold a pencil between them. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
  • Pendulum swings: This exercise helps to loosen and lubricate the shoulder joint, which can reduce pain and stiffness. To perform this exercise, lean forward on a table or chair with your unaffected arm supporting your weight. Let your affected arm hang down freely. Gently swing your arm in small circles, clockwise and counterclockwise, for about a minute each direction.
  • External rotation: This exercise helps to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, which can improve the stability and function of the shoulder joint. To perform this exercise, stand or sit with your back straight and your affected arm bent at 90 degrees at your side. Hold a light weight or a resistance band in your hand. Keeping your elbow close to your body, rotate your forearm outward until it is parallel to the floor. Hold for 2 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Physical therapy is an effective and safe intervention for shoulder impingement that can help you recover from your condition and prevent future complications. 

October 17, 2023 By Kurt Abke