When it comes to shoulder pain, you may be dealing with issues unlike anywhere else in the body. Though the shoulder joints are comprised of bone, muscle, and tendons like other joints, instead of the soft tissue surrounding bone, the shoulder is the reverse. Bone surrounds soft tissue. Although prone to many of the same problems as other joints, the unique range of motion lends itself to unusual variations on joint injury.
Shoulder impingement syndrome
Shoulder impingement syndrome results from this singular physiology. When you sprain your ankle, for example, there’s an expected course of healing. However, with soft tissue outside the bone, the inflammation from the ankle sprain is free to heal, generally without complication.
The shoulder, however, encases soft tissue inflammation within the bones of the shoulder. Pressure builds within the rotator cuff, and blood flow to capillaries may be compromised, interfering with the natural healing systems of the body. As well, the undernourished tendon starts to fray.
Shoulder motion is affected, and the joint can be painful, particularly with certain motions, such as reaching overhead or behind your back. Your shoulder may lose strength, and the tendon may become perforated or torn, commonly referred to as a rotator cuff tear. When the tendon is torn completely, you may not even be able to raise your arm against the force of gravity due to this lack of strength.
Reasons behind your shoulder pain
Injuries are a common cause of shoulder impingement, but not all injuries are immediately apparent. Some, such as breaks to the arm or collarbone, sprained, dislocated, or separated shoulders are obvious at the time of injury. Others, like partial rotator cuff tear or damage due to arthritis may be harder to pinpoint. Shoulder impingement develops in response to tissue inflammation, so the start of impingement pain may come later, after inflammation passes a critical point.
People most likely to suffer from shoulder impingement
As you get older, tissue throughout your body loses capability, so if you remain active, some motions or activities that you once handled in stride may now be enough to start the shoulder impingement condition. When these activities involve repeated overhead motion of the arms, such as a swimmer or a worker who performs tasks above shoulder height, risk of shoulder impingement increases.
Motions from many sports may cause inflammation, resulting in shoulder impingement. These include:
- Fishing, particularly fly fishing and active casting
- Overhand throwing, such as with baseball or football
- Defensive and shooting postures in basketball
Shoulder changes brought on by arthritic conditions can also reduce the space that soft tissue has in which to move. Osteoarthritis may produce bone spurs, and any condition that results in the deterioration of the shoulder joint may be a culprit.
The good news is that many cases of shoulder impingement respond well to conservative treatment, typically starting with pain management and physical therapy. Choosing Dr. Gombera at Fix My Shoulder in Houston assures both accurate diagnosis and the best of today’s treatment options. A shoulder specialist, Dr. Gombera is uniquely qualified to partner with you against the symptoms of shoulder impingement. Call or click today to arrange your consultation.