How We Treat

Shoulder Impingement

What is shoulder impingement?

Shoulder impingement or 'impingement syndrome' is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain.  It occurs when tendons or other soft tissues are squashed by or rubon nearby bone when you lift your arm.  The soft tissue around the area then becomes sore and swollen. 

What are the symptoms of shoulder impingement?

You may feel any combination of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or discomfort on the top or to the side of the shoulder and upper arm. 
  • Pain, discomfort, and aching particularly at night
  • Pain or discomfort when you lift your arm above shoulder level
  • Weakness in your arm and shoulder

Why does it happen / what causes shoulder impingement?

Impingement symptoms can come on gradually or suddenly, but might occur more readily in some people than others such as: 

  • Arthritis of the 'AC' Joint (a small joint on the top of the shoulder)
  • Previous injuries to the shoulder including dislocation or rotator cuff injury
  • Poor posture or poor shoulder mechanics

Self-help measures

Simple things you can try at home if you think you might have shoulder impingement are:

  • try to keep moving your shoulder in the pain free range - this will help prevent the shoulder, upper back and neck from stiffening up
  • Avoid movements or positions that directly aggravate the pain (we don't want to squash the sore tissues even more!)  Movements that commonly aggravate it will be movements with your arms overhead.
  • Anti-inflammatories or pain killers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can help in the short term
  • If you are round shoulders and are embarking on an activity where your shoulder muscles will be used, it might be worth addressing the posture of your middle-back to re-align your shoulder position to try and prevent tendonitis.

What can The StoneHouse Clinic do?

We commonly treat shoulder impingement and will be assessed by a Physiotherapist or Osteopath who have the clinical skills to diagnose the problem.  In a small number of cases we may refer you for imaging of the shoulder with one of our in-house doctors to assess the extent of the injury.

From the initial assessment, we would design a treatment program that is specific to your stage of inury and taking your medical history and lifestyle into account. Treatment will be individual to your injury but may include:

  • Physical manipulation of the muscles and joints
  • Physical stretching
  • Massage
  • Acupncture
  • Electrotherapy
  • Rehabilitation or posture correction exercise
  • Steroid injections if the impingement is persitent, or the pain levels are preventing effective rehabilitation

In a very small number of cases, surgical intervention is needed.  We always aim to identify those in need or surgery quickly, and we will direct you to the best surgeons in the area.

If you think you may have shoulder impingement and would like to book an appointment with one of our friendly and experienced Physiotherapists or Osteopath at The StoneHouse Clinic in Corsham, Wiltshire (near Chippenham and Bath) then please contact us.


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Thank you for helping my 12 year old son's dislocated shoulder. 12 months after dislocating it, it hadn't got any better but within 4 sessions of treatment he was fully rehabilitated

Mr M, Barnstaple