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Help! Which activities can cause shoulder impingement syndrome?

Updated: May 23, 2020

Shoulder subacromial impingement syndrome is a common syndrome seen in adults. It occurs as a result of repetitive compression or  impingement” of the shoulder’s rotator cuff tendons. This compression results in pain and active range of motion limitations. Shoulder impingement can also be caused by injury. When the rotator cuff is injured, it swells. In the shoulder the tendons, bursa and ligaments are surrounded by bone and lie under the acromion. Because the rotator cuff muscles are surrounded by three bones, the swelling causes an increase in pressure within the tendon, which results in a compression when you raise your arm to shoulder height. The space between the acromion and rotator cuff narrows and this squeezing of the tendon and bursa causes a loss of blood flow in the capillaries.

Squeezing of the tendon causes less blood to reach the tendon tissue. The lack of blood causes the tissue of the tendon to shred or tear.

So again, what activities actually cause shoulder impingement? Repetitive arm movements (cooking, cleaning, laundry), reaching up behind the back (think buttoning and zippering) and overhead activities (managing hair, reaching into cabinets) cause increased pain and inflammation.

Patients with shoulder bursitis or rotator cuff tendinitis are at risk of future impingement syndrome. Loss of sleep from pain can be indicative of a more serious problem like a rotator cuff tear. A rotator cuff tear is a small tear or hole in the tendon.

What are some of your favorite strategies when treating shoulder impingement issues? Drop us a comment below!

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