What is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome and how can i treat it?

About the Shoulder

The shoulder is one of biggest and most complex joints in the entire body. It's the most mobile joint in the body which allows the upper body tremendous range of motion. This evidently causes the joint to be extremely unstable which makes it easy to injure. The shoulder joint consists of the scapula (shoulder blade) and humerus (upper arm bone) which connect like a ball and socket. Some other bones and structures that make up the shoulder are the acromion, clavicle, coracoid process, rotator cuff and bursa. 


What Causes Shoulder Impingement?

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome is a condition where the rotator cuff tendons become trapped and compressed when moving the shoulder. The bone impacts the rotator cuff tendons or bursa to cause this shoulder pain. As result, the tendons become swollen and inflamed which then leads to rotator cuff tendinitis. If its the bursa thats impacted, its called shoulder bursitis. Both of these could occur at the same time. These injuries aren't caused by one wrong fall or movement but continuous movements that build up over time to cause impingement.

How can I treat this?

Before taking steps to treat you pain, it is recommended to get an official diagnosis from your doctor. Medical history, physical exams and X-rays should be incorporated to rule out other injuries or conditions such as arthritis and bone spurs. If the doctor diagnoses you with Shoulder Impingement Syndrome, it is recommended to take anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen to help treat your pain. Along with the medication, stretching is key to healing your shoulder. Here are some great stretches to incorporate into your everyday life.

5 stretches to help relieve your shoulder pain

Cross Body Arm Stretch


Take your right arm and cross it against your body. Using your left hand, gently pull the arm closer to your body until you feel a stretch. Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat with the other arm.

Anterior Shoulder Stretch 

Grasp a doorframe or something above your head. Then move forwards while continuing to hold so that your arm is left behind to stretch the front shoulder and chest muscles. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat. 

Supraspinatus Stretch

Stand with a straight spine while putting your hands on your hips with your palms facing outwards and fingers pointing backwards. While pressing your hands onto your hips, slowly begin to move your elbows forward until you feel a light tension behind the shoulders. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat.

Shoulder Flexion Stretch

First begin by grasping a light bar or household item like a broom stick. Make sure that you stand straight with shoulder blades back and palms at shoulder width. With your arms being stretched perfectly straight, raise the bar over your head for 5 seconds then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat this stretch 10-20 times for multiple sets. 

Shoulder Internal Rotation

You will need a resistance band for this stretch. 

Tie the band to something sturdy such as a door or piece of furniture. Then grasp the band close to your side with your elbows bent 90 degrees. Put a towel or piece of clothing between you and your arm to make sure your arm stays steady as you perform the stretch. Hold the band and slowly move your forearms towards your stomach, across your body. Then slowly return back to the starting position and repeat. 

Working on your posture may also benefit your shoulder pain and you could read all about that here.

For more information or any questions, give us a call at 718-258-3300 or contact us today!