Supraspinatus (soo-pruh-spi-nay-tus) impingement is one of the most common shoulder injuries. Around 20% of people experience symptoms at some point in their lives. Luckily, shoulder impingements respond well to physiotherapy, and we are here to help!
What is a supraspinatus impingement?
The supraspinatus is one of four rotator cuff muscles. An impingement occurs when the space between the tip of the shoulder blade and the rotator cuff narrows. This causes a ‘pinching’ or rubbing of the supraspinatus tendon. When jammed, the impingement results in pain, usually from the front of the shoulders to the side of the arm. Pain may occur during activity or at rest.
The rotator cuff is responsible for holding your arm in place in your shoulder socket. People with poor shoulder and spine mechanics can be more prone to injury. Any activity that involves lifting, pushing down or reaching overhead can cause an impingement. Impingement can be acute from injury or longer term from repetitive strain or ageing.
Sports like swimming, tennis and baseball that require repeated overhead and forceful arm movements put participants at higher risk. The same goes for jobs like builders, painters and cleaners (which includes household chores like putting up washing!)
How can we help?
First things first, if pain flares, get on the phone and come see us!
After talking through your history and a physical assessment we will employ a range of techniques to start rehab. Managing pain is a top priority, so we may use gentle massage to loosen your shoulder, neck or spine. Rest is often needed, but we can also use tape to relieve strain on the area. Gentle range of motion exercises are crucial in avoiding the impingement escalating to a chronic problem with risk of development into a tear of the tendon. These are commonly prescribed along with strengthening exercises to the surrounding areas to help keep the shoulder stable. We can also provide advice on posture, proper lifting technique and tips on reducing load to prevent future injury.