Impingement syndrome is a painful condition that affects the shoulder, and is often seen in adults over the age of 50. It may also affect those who engage in activities that require them to repeatedly raise their arms over their heads, such as playing tennis, swimming, or working in careers that require them to reach up to retrieve or lift items above their heads.
It is caused by wear or injury to the rotator cuff muscles that surround and support the shoulder joint. When the muscles and tendons of the shoulder become worn, they respond by swelling, which (because they are surrounded by bone) causes compression and a loss of blood flow to the entire area. This in turn causes the muscle tissue of the shoulder to begin to degrade, in effect to fray like a rope. As a result, movements such as reaching up behind the back or lifting the arm over the head become painful, and shoulder motion becomes restricted. This may be accompanied by an increasing weakness of the shoulder muscles.
The pain of shoulder impingement syndrome is most often experienced as a sharp burning sensation when you move your arms and shoulder. One test performed by chiropractors to detect this syndrome is to have you raise your arm to the side, similar to performing “jumping jacks.” If pain occurs, that may be an indication of impingement. The pain is often felt on the outer side of the shoulder and upper arm. Another key symptom of this condition is waking up with pain after sleeping on your side, regardless of which side you sleep on.
Shoulder impingement syndrome is treated by medical doctors with painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications (and in severe cases with surgery), but there are more conservative, non-invasive treatments available. Several studies have shown that chiropractic manipulation, in conjunction with standard medical treatments, produces much faster and more complete relief from impingement syndrome pain than medical treatment alone.
A Doctor of Chiropractic, after performing a thorough examination to make sure that the condition is in fact shoulder impingement syndrome and not a more serious injury or condition, can prescribe a series of treatments aimed at achieving several goals. First, because the shoulder and arm are connected to the spine, the chiropractor may perform spinal adjustments to eliminate structural abnormalities that are causing or perpetuating the wear and tear on the shoulder joints. At the same time, your chiropractor may treat the muscles of the shoulder and arm with cross friction massage or with electro-stimulation therapy to relax them, and thus to improve mobility of the shoulder joints and arms. Chiropractors can also recommend home care activities and exercises to strengthen the shoulder girdle muscles and prevent further pain as the result of upward movements of the arm.
So if you suffer from shoulder impingement syndrome, it may be worth your time to consult a chiropractor. Relief from this painful condition can be achieved, and without the need for drugs or surgery.