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How to treat your shoulder impingement with a physical therapist’s help

A shoulder impingement is a painful condition that happens when tendons and muscles in your shoulder rub against bones or other soft tissue. The shoulder pain can be severe enough that it makes it difficult to work, participate in sports or perform everyday tasks. And if left untreated, a shoulder impingement can sometimes lead to further injury. If the tendon is put under enough stress, there is a possibility that it can tear.

A shoulder impingement can be treated, however, before it gets worse. 

What causes shoulder impingements to happen?

A number of things can cause a shoulder impingement to occur. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Sports injury — Those who play sports such as volleyball or swimming are at higher risk of developing a shoulder impingement. The repeated overhead motions of these kinds of sports puts strain on the shoulder tendons. This is the reason shoulder impingements are often referred to as “swimmer’s shoulder.”’
  • Workplace injury — Repetitive motions in the workplace are common, especially for those working manual labor or service jobs. Overhead motions such as stocking high shelves or window washing can cause shoulder impingements to occur.
  • Bone spurs — If you have developed bone spurs in your shoulder, the tendons in your shoulder are at risk of becoming caught against them. Bone spurs are common in people with osteoarthritis, as well as people who have suffered a previous shoulder injury.

How can physical therapy treat my shoulder impingement?

Physical therapy is the most widely recommended kind of treatment for treating shoulder impingements. Most doctors recommend physical therapy over the use of surgery or drugs. A licensed physical therapist can used a number of methods to treat a shoulder impingement injury, including:

  • Manual therapy — Manual therapy uses hands-on techniques to break up scar tissue, reduce tension, and promote flexibility in areas of muscle that are painful and stiff. 
  • Dry needling — This technique intended to stimulate muscles, relieving pain and stiffness in the affected area. Dry needling is often used in areas unable to be reached by manual therapy.
  • Therapeutic exercises — Your physical therapist can guide you through exercises and stretches specifically designed to restore flexibility and increase the strength of your shoulder muscles. This not only reduces pain but also helps prevent the shoulder from becoming injured in the future.


If your shoulder impingement injury is preventing you from doing the things you enjoy, it is time to turn to a licensed physical therapy specialist for help. 

Our team at Back in Motion Physical Therapy is ready to help you pinpoint the cause of your pain and work with you to manage your symptoms. We can start by scheduling a free screening, and from there we can construct a physical therapy plan that is perfectly suited to your needs.

Contact us today for more information about treating a shoulder injury or to schedule an initial appointment. 

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