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Relieving Shoulder Impingement Through Physical Therapy

Your physician has diagnosed you with shoulder impingement, but what does that mean? The classic symptom of the condition is pain when you raise your arm to shoulder height. The motion causes a narrowing of the space between the acromion (the bone at the top of the shoulder), the tendons of the rotator cuff that keep the arm in the shoulder socket, and the bursa between the acromion and the tendons. Although such narrowing is normal, impingement occurs when the acromion literally strikes, or impinges on, the tendons or the bursa, resulting in pain.

Studies have shown that in many cases physical therapy can be just as successful to treat shoulder impingement as is surgery. 

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In any event, conservative options, including physical therapy, should almost always be considered before resorting to surgery. These options may include rest (but not immobilization), job and activity modification, oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (if your physician approves) and ice applications.  If you

You can begin a physical therapy program once acute pain is no longer present. Light weights used in isometric exercises and isotonic exercises can strengthen the arm and shoulder muscles, especially the rotator cuff, and enhance control and positioning of the shoulder. This includes exercises designed to enable you to better control and position your shoulder blade (scapula).
When the rotator cuff is stronger, it can better stabilize the entire shoulder joint, making impingement—and the associated pain—less likely. These strategies can help prevent future injuries, as well.

If none of these techniques works to significantly relieve your pain, corticosteroid injections may be a viable option. As a last resort, your physician may recommend surgery followed by postoperative physical therapy.
We can design an individual exercise program to help relieve the pain of shoulder impingement. By following this plan, you may be able to avoid shoulder surgery and feel less pain.

Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Paramus, NJ provides orthopedic and sports physical therapy services for the greater Paramus, Ridgewood, and Bergen County region.  This blog is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. The views expressed here are the author’s views and should be taken as suggestions. Always consult your physician before engaging in a physical therapy or rehabilitative regimen.

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann is a premier physical therapist based out of Bergen County, New Jersey. He holds an MS in physical therapy from the University of Miami, is credentialed in the world-renowned McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), and holds an OCS (Orthopedic Clinical Specialist) certification. As of 2018, there are approximately 14,000 ABPTS certified specialists in the nation and less than 400 of them are located in the state of New Jersey. Tom is the owner and director of Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Paramus. He opened the clinic, which specializes in spine and sports injury prevention, in 2004 after many years of experience in the field. Tom’s caring interest in others and his strong belief in continuity of care, combined with his clinic’s ability to find solutions for the most difficult orthopedic problems, have earned Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation its excellent reputation with patients and medical professionals in northeastern New Jersey and beyond. A true “family man,” Tom takes pride in his clinic’s warm and welcoming environment.
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