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Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

What is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

Shoulder impingement occurs when the rotator cuff muscles and/or bicep muscles become stuck in between the bony areas of the shoulder joint. This would not only limit the mobility of the shoulder joint, but when the muscle becomes trapped in between, the pressure and rubbing in the joint can lead to pain and inflammation. In addition, the pain associated with the shoulder impingement syndrome can lead to altered movements of the scapula. The serratus anterior is less involved in scapular movements leading to instability and weakness in the shoulder joint, while the trapezius overcompensates and becomes sore and tight.

What causes Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

There are many factors that can contribute to shoulder impingement syndrome. Some include age, injuries to the shoulders, postural issues like scoliosis and hunchback, and shoulder instability. However the biggest cause of shoulder impingement syndrome is overuse. Overuse can come in many forms, such as overhead sports like baseball and tennis, or use in improper postures while working such as computer work for prolonged periods of time and improper overhead lifting.

What can be done about Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

The pain from shoulder impingement syndrome can be treated through rest and anti-inflammatory medication, but the decreased function of the scapula must be fixed through strengthening and stretching the muscles involved in the dysfunctional scapula. Some exercises that may help can be a crossover arm stretch to relieve tightness in some of the rotator cuff muscles, trapezius stretches to relax the tight muscles used in compensation, and a serratus anterior push up to strengthen the muscle and improve stability.

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