Mar 23

Treating a common cause of shoulder pain

shoulder strecthShoulder impingement syndrome is a common shoulder condition causing shoulder pain and restricted movement. Often the cause of this pain is related to injury to the the rotator cuff  (a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and help to keep it stable) which occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles become irritated and inflamed.

Certain movements, such as lifting the arm upwards and outwards, will cause one of these tendons to become intermittently trapped and compressed within the shoulder joint. Often patient’s report being unable to lie on the affected shoulder due to significant pain and soreness.

Causes of Shoulder Impingement Include:
* Injury to the shoulder causing inflammation of the supraspinatus tendon ( either due to trauma or repetitive injury)
* Weakness or malfunction of the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder sometimes aggravated by shoulder arthritis
* Instability of the shoulder joint
* Poor posture including forward head carriage and rounded shoulders
* Inflammation of the subacromial bursa, a fluid filled sac in the shoulder joint


* Shoulder pain when your arm is at shoulder height and or when your arm is raised overhead
* Shoulder pain that can travel from the shoulder to the elbow
* Pain when lying on a sore shoulder
* Shoulder pain at rest as your condition deteriorates.
* Muscle weakness or pain when attempting to reach or lift the arm
* Pain when putting your hand behind your back
* Pain when reaching for a seat belt
* Pain on combing hair
Shoulder pain can also increase lying on the shoulder at night. Other symptoms include a grinding or popping sensation during movement of the shoulder.

Who suffers from Impingement?
Impingement syndrome is most likely to occur in people who engage in physical activities that require repeated overhead arm movements such as tennis, golf, swimming, weight lifting or throwing a ball.
Sedentary lifestyles where a person has already developed rounding of the shoulders and occupations that require overhead lifting or work to be done above shoulder height are also at risk of rotator cuff impingement.

Treatment options for Shoulder Impingement

Recovery and treatment depends on diagnosing the cause of your shoulder pain and restricted movement. Your chiropractor or other specialised health professional will be able to conduct a series of orthopaedic tests and carefully examine your shoulder physically to determine the cause of the shoulder problems. On occasion an x ray made need to be taken , or you may need to be referred for MRI to better evaluate the extent of the shoulder condition.

Various physical treatments methods including stretching and massage are administered to improve the function of the shoulder and  to help restore the movement of the shoulder, ease the pain and promote healing.

Sometimes poor flexibility and alignment of the spine may also need to be addressed simultaneously through manipulation/ mobilisation of the spine.

Specific exercises are used to help to regain shoulder strength and flexibility. Muscle rehabilitation is extremely important for the recovery and maintenance of shoulder injuries. Postural advice and corrective treatment is necessary particularly if you noticeably carry your head forward of your body or if you are round shouldered.

Occasionally  surgery is required if a tendon tear is larger or if significant shoulder arthritis is present and your chiropractor or healthcare practitioner can determine if this type of referral is necessary.


If you or a family member or friend is suffering with shoulder pain, or symptoms resembling shoulder impingement please feel free to contact one of our chiropractors for a thorough and professional evaluation and assessment. Our aim is to help you regain function through accurate diagnosis and timely treatment delivery.
For a new patient consultation please contact our Gorey Family Chiropractic Team on 053 94 83338 or email your enquiry to