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Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement is one of the most common conditions of the shoulder. It is a process by which poor posture or repetitive overload causes pinching or ‘impingement’ of structures between the two bones which make up the shoulder complex. It is often the supraspinatus tendon +/- the subacromial bursa that become impinged between the humerus and the scapular bones as pictured:



Signs and symptoms:

  • Catch of pain at shoulder level or above
  • Inability to do overhead activities without pain
  • Inability to reach the hand behind the back (i.e. to fasten a bra)
  • Ache down the lateral arm
  • Pain when lying on the affected side


Treatment Options:

Impingement symptoms normally reduce with conservative management of physiotherapy. The treatment strategies include improving posture and optimising the mechanics of the shoulder to prevent the impingement from occurring. This may involve advice and education, ice/ heat therapies, hands on massage for muscular release, and often a home exercise program to strengthen and stretch involved muscles.