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Dr. Mark J. Kirk &
Dr. James McNally
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Impingement Syndrome


Shoulder impingement syndrome is a painful condition that can make almost everything you do on a daily basis, from brushing your hair to reaching for items on a high shelf, difficult and sometimes impossible.

People with this condition usually complain of an ache in the shoulder, which becomes a sharp pain when they raise their arm to the front or the side of their body. They may also experience weakness and a decreased range of motion. All the symptoms usually worsen while they sleep, especially if they have a tendency to roll onto the affected shoulder.

Tennis players, pitchers and swimmers are among those most susceptible to shoulder problems, as repeated overhead movements can cause irritation and swelling in the joint. People who tend to sleep with one arm above their head or under their pillow may also be at risk.

Shoulder impingement syndrome is a complex condition, commonly mistaken by health-care providers for similar disorders in the shoulder like tendonitis, bursitis, or muscle tears. These conditions are all closely related and produce similar, almost indistinguishable symptoms.

In fact, impingement syndrome can develop when patients treat other shoulder conditions, like those mentioned above, improperly. Without proper care, these conditions cause shoulder dysfunction, and over time the body responds by producing scar tissue.

It's the scar tissue that interferes with the usual motion of the shoulder joint, much the same as rust on a bolt makes it hard to twist in a screw. Your shoulder only has enough space for the essentials: the muscles that move the arm, the tendons that connect muscle to bone, the ligaments that connect bone to bone and the cushioning tissues that protect them all. Impingement refers to the pinching or rubbing among these tendons, ligaments and bones, which intensifies when you lift your arm, and becomes painful when scar tissue joins the crowd.

Living with shoulder impingement syndrome isn't easy, as it affects almost everything you do. It's therefore imperative that you seek care from your chiropractor if you suspect you have the condition. Using a variety of techniques, he or she can decrease the amount of scar tissue in your shoulder and rehabilitate the area.