Does your shoulder hurt? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone: Nearly two thirds of people will experience shoulder pain at some point in their lives.
Your shoulder is one of the most flexible joints in your body, and it’s made up of a complex network of tendons, muscles, and bones. Shoulder impingement is a common type of injury, and it’s a leading cause of shoulder pain.
It develops with overuse, when your rotator cuff rubs and catches along the top of your shoulder. It’s particularly common when you use your shoulders for overhead work or forceful motion. Athletes who swim or play tennis, softball, or baseball are at risk for shoulder impingement, as are people with occupations like construction work and painting.
Shoulder impingement often causes constant, all-day pain and quickly interferes with your normal activities. The good news is that Aron Rovner, MD and our team at New York Spine and Sports Surgery specialize in treating rotator cuff injuries, and we’re here to help you find relief from your shoulder impingement pain.
Take a break from strenuous activity
The most important thing to do when you’re diagnosed with shoulder impingement is to rest. While taking a break from sports or work to let your shoulder heal isn’t always easy, it’s the only way to ensure your injury doesn’t get worse.
Ignoring shoulder impingement pain can cause rotator cuff tendonitis, where the tendons in the rotator cuff get inflamed. Over time, the tendons can become thin and may even tear. Rotator cuff tears require surgery to repair them.
While your shoulder is healing, avoid any movements that make it hurt, such as lifting your arm above your head or behind you. If your shoulder is causing pain, applying an ice pack for 15-20 minutes at a time can dull the pain and reduce swelling.
Consider pain medication
Shoulder impingement is painful, and pain can continue even when you stop participating in the activities that caused your injury. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can temporarily help relieve pain and inflammation.
Taking pain medication as directed can make healing more comfortable. If over-the-counter pain medicine isn’t enough, Dr. Rovner may be able to recommend other medications for you. In more severe cases, steroid injections can control inflammation and pain.
Try physical therapy to rebuild strength
Impingement makes moving your shoulder painful and challenging. Dr. Rovner often prescribes physical therapy to help you build strength and increase shoulder mobility as your injury heals.
Your physical therapist may focus on gentle, controlled exercises that strengthen the muscles in your shoulder, chest, and arm. This helps your rotator cuff move more smoothly, reducing pain and inflammation over time.
Shoulder impingement can take between six months and a year to completely heal. You may begin to return to normal activities in about two to four weeks, but check in with Dr. Rovner regularly so he can monitor your progress and pain level.
If your shoulder impingement pain isn’t relieved with conservative treatments, Dr. Rovner may recommend shoulder surgery to repair your rotator cuff, if needed, and give it more space to move freely inside your shoulder.
Our team is here to help you find relief from shoulder impingement pain and get back to all your favorite activities. Contact us at 516-794-2990 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rovner at one of our offices in Garden City, New York, or Fair Lawn, New Jersey.