What is Shoulder Impingement?

Shoulder Impingement occurs when one of your rotator cuff muscle tendons becomes pinched, or impinged, between the bone in your arm and your shoulder blade. The friction on the muscle can cause increased pain and inflammation when lifting up the arm as the muscle becomes pinched between the two bony landmarks. If you feel pain in the front of your shoulder when lifting your arm overhead, it may be caused by shoulder impingement.  It is important to address the cause of shoulder impingement, as repetitive stress on the muscle can lead to a rotator cuff tear.
shoulder-impingement-picture

Causes:

  • Repetitive overhead movements performed during sports such as swimming, baseball, tennis, and volleyball, or during such activities such as overhead weightlifting or painting.
  • Weakness of the rotator cuff muscles, causing decreased shoulder stability and abnormal shoulder mechanics.
  • An injury or fall onto the shoulder.
  • Bony abnormalities that narrow the space underneath the shoulder blade.

How Harbor Physical Therapy can help:

  • Reducing pain and inflammation in the shoulder through modalities such as ice, heat, and electrical stimulation.
  • Patient education on which activities should be performed and which should be avoided.
  • Restoring range of motion to the shoulder through exercise and manual therapy.
  • Promoting normalized movement patterns with proper body mechanics.
  • Strengthening the shoulder complex and rotator cuff to increase shoulder stability and prevent further injury.

Can a Flu Shot Cause Long Lasting Pain or Injury?

After receiving a flu shot, a small portion of people complain of pain in their upper arm/shoulder that lasts for several weeks or months. A theory of why this occurs suggests that the vaccine is being injected into the joint capsule or bursa and causing an inflammatory response.

For relief, you can apply a heating pad to the shoulder/upper arm and rest the arm. If after several days your pain still persists, you should contact your physician that provided you the flu shot. At that point, your physician might refer you for physical therapy.

Physical therapy treatment is usually brief and can provide pain relief and increased range of motion. With use of manual techniques such as massage and stretching, range of motion can be restored and pain decreased. Strengthening exercises can help to restore any weakness that has occurred from lack of use of the arm.

If you have experienced pain from a flu shot that is lasting longer that you expected, seeing a physical therapist can help facilitate healing of your muscles, tendons and shoulder joint.