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Shoulder Impingement

What is an impingement of the shoulder?

Shoulder Impingement syndrome is when the tendons of the muscles in the shoulder become irritated and inflamed as they pass through a small passage called the subacromial space. Physiotherapy is an excellent first line treatment of shoulder impingement.

What causes shoulder impingement?

Impingement can be caused by overuse of the shoulder, especially repetitive overhead activities and lifting in the gym or at work. Shoulder impingement can also be caused by muscle imbalance of the shoulder, which includes short, tight or weak muscles. Other causes of shoulder impingement include; trauma to the shoulder which can damage the tendon or irritate the bursa, overuse with repetitive reaching movements, poor posture and biomechanics causing abnormal movement patterns, reduced space for the tendons caused by thickened tendons or bony spurs.


Symptoms of shoulder impingement include pain at the front or top of the shoulder and occasionally down the side of the arm often worsened by lifting the arm, pain and weakness with heavy lifting or reaching above shoulder height and pain or aching at night lying on the affected shoulder.


Shoulder impingement typically responds well to physiotherapy treatment. Your Physiotherapist may provide treatments that include:

  • Joint Manipulation / Mobilisation
  • Rehabilitation Exercise Programmes
  • Soft tissue release
  • Postural Education
  • Shockwave therapy
  • Dry needling
  • Cupping therapy

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