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Why does my shoulder hurt so much?

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

The shoulder is made up of a group of muscles that together give the glenohumeral joint the range of motion we need in order to perform our everyday activities. Imbalances can occur in the shoulder from continuously working with ones arms raised overhead. It can also be caused by repetitive actions, throwing motions, which can cause debilitating pain. Impingement syndrome occurs when the rotator cuff tendons rub against the roof of the shoulder (AC joint).


Why do I have problems with shoulder impingement?

Usually, there is enough room between the AC joint and the rotator cuff muscles so that the tendons slide easily underneath the AC joint as the arm is raised. But each time you raise your arm, there is a bit of rubbing or pinching on the tendons and the bursa. This rubbing or pinching action is called impingement.

Day-to-day activities that involve using the arm above shoulder level can cause impingement. Impingement becomes a problem when it causes irritation or damage to the rotator cuff tendons.

Raising the arm tends to force the humerus against the edge of the AC joint. With overuse, this can cause irritation and swelling of the bursa. If any other condition decreases the amount of space between the AC joint and the rotator cuff tendons, the impingement may get worse.

Bone spurs can reduce the space available for the bursa and tendons to move under the acromion. The AC joint is directly above the bursa and rotator cuff tendons.


What does impingement syndrome feel like?

Initially impingement syndrome causes generalized shoulder aches in the early stages. The pain may become sharp, stabbing and burning at times. Most patients complain that the pain makes it difficult for them to sleep, especially when they roll onto the affected shoulder.


Shoulder impingement syndrome is treated by medical doctors with painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications. In some severe cases surgery may also be recommended. 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 with just medical treatment alone.

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