Shoulder Impingement

Editor: Dr. Amy Spencer, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC, CSCS, CKTP - A Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopedic Physical Therapy and Certified Manual Therapist. Owner and Physical Therapist, Specialized Physical Therapy in North Reading, MA.

Impingement is a compression or wearing of the supraspinatus tendon, which is a crucial part of your rotator cuff.Specialized Physical Therapy Shoulder Impingement
There are three main causes of impingement:

  • Overuse or repetition of an overhead motion can throw out your shoulderand result in this type of painful shoulder injury. Impingement shoulder injuries are often associated with sports that involve an upward motion such as tennis and swimming, or repetitive tasks like painting.
  • Aging bones can be a cause of impingement. Anatomic or bone structure abnormalities that come with age can result in a narrower sub-acromial space. Bone spurs or arthritic swelling of the joints can crowd and pinch your rotator cuff causing impingement.
  • Impingement can be the result of weakness in your shoulder blade muscles. If your supporting muscles are not effectively stabilizing the humeral head within the socket during overhead motions, the humeral head may move upwards and out of the socket. This causes impingement and alters the normal mechanics of your shoulder joint. Underdeveloped muscles and shoulder instability are usually the cause of impingement shoulder injuries in young athletes.

Symptoms of Impingement:

In a mild case of impingement, you will only feel pain when the arm is in certain positions. Raising your arm overhead or resting your body on that particular shoulder will usually result in significant pain. It may also hurt to reach your arm behind your back. Other symptoms of impingement include stiffness, weakness, and a decreased range of shoulder movements.

Treatment of Shoulder Impingement:

Ultrasound, Kinesio Tape, manual therapy, and specific stretching and strengthening exercises are the most effective treatments for impingement shoulder injuries. These powerful forms of physical therapy are focused on healing damaged tendons, restoring normal range of motion, increasing physical endurance, and building muscle strength. An Ultrasound and Kinesio Tape are used to reduce pain and muscle spasms while increasing blood flow and tissue flexibility.

Manual therapy usually involves thoroughly massaging the inflamed area to release muscle tightness in your shoulder and shoulder blade. Manual therapy is also done to reduce the formation of scar tissue and to encourage new blood vessel development. Manual therapy accompanied with joint mobilization movements will help rebuild your shoulder’s strength and increase its mobility. Personalized stretching and strengthening exercises will complete the therapy by restoring muscle performance, motor function, and your shoulder’s full range of motion.

It takes a carefully constructed and customized combination of these various forms of physical therapy to correct the damage done by an impingement shoulder injury. Physical therapy is necessary to regain pain-free movement of your shoulder joint. A physical therapist will show you how to slowly transition your shoulder back to its pre-injury condition.

It is important to rest and protect your shoulder injury until you are able to seek treatment. Aggravating the already inflamed and irritated shoulder joint can cause increased pain and further damage. It is best to avoid lifting heavy objects, reaching up to grab things, or any other repetitive overhead motion. You should also avoid sleeping on your shoulder.

SPT is just minutes from Andover, Reading, North Andover, and Wilmington MA

Specialized Physical Therapy is conveniently located in North Reading and also proudly serves residents in Andover, Reading, North Andover, Wilmington, Boxford, Burlington, Woburn, Stoneham, and Methuen.  We offer free and spacious parking located within a few steps away from our clinic’s door.


Schedule Your Appointment Today to Regain Freer Movement and Healthy Living!

Specialized Physical Therapy practices a comprehensive approach to total muscle, joint, and spine health. We are the preferred physical therapy clinic in Greater Boston, because we offer an extensive range of physical therapy services designed to restore your physical strength and mobility while reducing your pain. Our physical therapy clinic sets itself apart by:

  • Providing proven techniques for alleviating minor, major, acute, and chronic pain.
  • Specializing in sports medicine, manual therapy, post-surgical care, auto accidents, prenatal and postpartum conditions, orthopedic injuries and overuse injuries.
  • Maintaining a clean, comfortable, private and quiet clinic, making it ideal for private consulting, educating and performing the latest physical therapy techniques.
  • Focusing on your individual needs, not the bottom line, because we are a small, physical therapist-owned and family-oriented clinic.
  • Treating one patient at a time in our private treatment room to make sure that you get the personalized care and attention you need.
  • Completing your treatment from start to finish with only exceptional doctorate trained and fully licensed Massachusetts physical therapists that have excellent skills, breadth of knowledge, and invaluable experience to help you reach your goals and succeed.


Read Our Patient Successes!