Shoulder impingement syndrome is a fairly common shoulder disorder that can be dramatically improved with acupuncture and corrective exercise. Shoulder impingement is usually the result of repetitive overhead or pressing movements, especially when there is internal rotation of the arm. Movements like swimming, painting, and shoulder pressing (with poor mechanics or in excess) can all lead to impingement syndrome.
Pain from shoulder impingement is generally located in the front or side of the shoulder and may travel slightly down the upper arm. It can often be described as a “pinching” or “sharp” pain, and will be especially bothersome when the arms are raised up at the sides. There may also be weakness associated with certain movements of the shoulder.
Which muscles are affected?
The primary muscles involved in impingement syndrome are the long head of the biceps, and 1 of the 4 rotator cuff muscles known as the supraspinatus. The bony anatomy of the shoulder predisposes the tendons of these muscles to be pinched on and irritated with overhead movements . This irritation sets off an inflammatory cascade and will start to become painful. If ignored and the shoulder is continually overused, this condition could progress to frozen shoulder or even potential tearing of the tendons.
How can acupuncture help?
Acupuncture is useful in this situation because it is able to 1) reduce inflammation in the muscle/tendons of the biceps and supraspinatus and 2) electro acupuncture can activate the muscles of the shoulder that have become inhibited by pain and inflammation. We can then take advantage of the muscle activation and do corrective exercise to promote better mechanics of the shoulder which will result in less irritation with overhead movements.
If you experience pain with shoulder movements, come in and have it evaluated. The quicker we can begin treatment, the quicker you can get back to all the activities you love.
Author Adam Gawlak is a Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc) and personal trainer (CSCS). His specialities include sports medicine acupuncture, motor point acupuncture, trigger point needling and traditional Chinese medicine, along with strength training, athletic performance, and corrective exercise.
Hyatt Training is a team of certified, enthusiastic and innovative health and fitness professionals in Portland, Oregon.