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What we’ll cover
  1. What is shoulder impingement?
  2. How to treat shoulder impingement?
  3. Exercises for shoulder impingement
  4. Does a cortisone injection help shoulder impingement?

How do you fix shoulder impingement?

Shoulder impingement is a common condition that causes pain around the front of the shoulder and upper arm. Impingement is a broad umbrella term commonly includes conditions such as shoulder bursitis or shoulder tendonitis. Symptoms can range from a dull ache around the shoulder that is exacerbated with arm movements. When not managed properly, it can commonly lead to reduced strength and flexibility resulting in further discomfort and disability. Our physiotherapist Jason Lee examines common ways to identify if you are experiencing shoulder impingement and what you should do to address this condition.

What is shoulder impingement?

The shoulder is an incredibly mobile ball and socket joint. The general shape of the joint is similar to a golf ball on a tee with very poor joint congruence and stability. This lack of congruence is incredibly valuable allowing our arm to move in a wide variety of directions and angles.

Shoulder impingement occurs when soft tissue structures such as the tendons of the rotator cuff or bursa become inflamed and painful. This includes shoulder tendonitis, bursitis and rotator cuff tears.

Common symptoms include a dull ache at the front of the shoulder that is exacerbated with overhead movements. As the condition progresses, symptoms can include a loss of strength, weakness and decreased flexibility.

How to treat shoulder impingement?

Our team at Malvern East Physiotherapy treat many people who have experienced shoulder impingement. Physiotherapy has been shown to be one of the most effective methods to treat shoulder impingement. In fact, physiotherapy has been shown to be superior than a corticosteroid injection.  Research has shown that a combination of hands-on physiotherapy and specific exercises has been shown to be the optimal treatment for impingement with long term results at both 4 weeks through to 3 months.

To reduce pain associated with shoulder impingement, your physiotherapist may utilise a range of hands-on techniques including shoulder mobilisations, dry needling or massage. In some cases, treatment may also address upper back and neck tightness that can be commonly associated with long standing shoulder pain. Most importantly, exercises to target strength specifically to the rotator cuff and around the shoulder blade are crucial to regain mobility, flexibility and strength. These exercises should be tailored and individualised depending on the nature and severity of your shoulder pain.

Exercises for shoulder impingement

Exercises for shoulder impingement should be targeted specifically at strengthening the rotator cuff and shoulder blade. These exercises can commonly include theraband exercises through to resistance exercises using weights. In some cases, clinical pilates or clinical strength can be a safe and effective way to address your shoulder pain.

Mobility exercises to address the upper back and neck can also be important for those with long standing shoulder pain. Upper back mobility is important to allow normal shoulder biomechanics whilst neck stiffness and tightness can often be associated persistent shoulder pain.

Does a cortisone injection help shoulder impingement?

Corticosteroid injections have commonly been utilised in the management of shoulder pain and impingement. Whilst corticosteroid injections can be effective in managing pain, it is important to consider all options. Current research indicates cortisone injections provide short-term pain relief but can have long term consequences. In fact, we now know that cortisone has negative effects on the structure of the tendon and actually predisposes the tendon to a higher risk of rupture.

However, in cases where progress has plateaued, corticosteroid injections may have a good effect to allow rehabilitation to progress. Your physiotherapist is well placed to discuss whether an injection can assist your rehabilitation.

If you are experiencing shoulder impingement, contact Malvern East Physiotherapy. Our team will comprehensively assess you shoulder and develop a specific treatment plan for you. Contact us today or book online today.


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Last week our team celebrated another great year. 

Whilst Melbourne’s weather had its own plans, we were still determined to keep with the theme of ‘Italian Summer’. We let our hair down to master the art of mixology 🍸🍹followed by an Italian feast. Friday morning Run Club with the team. Practicing what we preach!

Staying stronger, healthier and happier. This time last week, our team was nervously completing their final preparations for @melbmara . 

Congratulations to our physiotherapists and ME community who ran on the day.

Dilen and Michael completed their first marathons. Abbey and Lizzie smashed out their first half. Last Sunday, our team headed down to see our own Matt Warren win a premiership in the VAFA Premier Men’s Competition. Last week our team dedicated a full day to professional development and team building. At ME Physio we pride ourselves on collaboration to put you at the centre of everything we do. 

Our team covered the latest treatments for back pain, financial well-being and finished off the day with salsa dancing. 

Many thanks to our guests including James Schomburgk from @the2ndvisitphysio , Financial Planners Tony Vikram & Cameron Bishop and the @salsafoundation At ME Physio, our focus is on helping you get stronger so that you can keep doing the things you love.

For Tony and Joan, healthier and stronger is being able to navigate the iconic Coast to Coast Walk in the UK! We recently had the pleasure of hosting Elise Bujor from Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapy to discuss women’s health issues across the lifespan. 

Our team pride themselves on staying up to date to ensure you’re able to stay healthier, happier and stronger. Huge milestones over the past few weeks with both Tom and Jude from @delasallefc doing their first bit of running in their rehab. 

Tom is on the return from an ankle dislocation whilst Jude is putting in the hard work following a knee reconstruction. Last week our team enjoyed some friendly rivalry at the footy. 

With finals around the corner, some of our team can now safely make holidays plans for September. We recently had the pleasure of hosting the podiatry team from @sespodiatry. 

Our physiotherapists Michael and Abbey presented on rehabilitation following Achilles surgical repair and ankle surgery. Last weekend some of our team got together to complete the 10 km run @runmelbourne. There was no finish line picture as some were keen to run another 15 km!

Whilst running wasn’t for some - brunch was well received by everyone. Shoulder impingement can be incredibly frustrating and painful. 

Tony has been working closely with our physiotherapists Vernon and Dilen to get on top of his shoulder pain. His treatment plan has included hands-on physiotherapy and individualised exercises in our hydrotherapy and strength programs.

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