Poor posture can lead to shoulder impingement

Poor posture can lead to shoulder impingement

In most areas of the body, your bones are surrounded by muscles and tendons that allow that part of the body to move. The shoulder is different. It is actually made up of three bones — the humerus or arm bone, the scapula or shoulder blade, and the clavicle or collarbone. Rather than being “wrapped” in tendon and muscle, these three bones are attached by a series of muscles and tendons called a rotator cuff. 

There is a lubricating sac at the top of your arm bone called the bursa that allows the rotator cuff to move freely when you move your arm. If the rotator cuff tendons become damaged or if the bursa becomes inflamed, the result can be significant pain in the shoulder. However, when you raise your arm to shoulder height, the space between the rotator cuff and the bone at the top of your shoulder (the acromion) narrows. The acromion can rub against the tendon or bursa, leading to shoulder impingement.

Symptoms of shoulder impingement

Often, people who suffer with shoulder impingement find that they have a hard time lifting their arm above their head. This can take the form of being unable to lift something overhead or having trouble putting on a coat. If left untreated, shoulder impingement wears down the tendons or bursa in the shoulder, causing a tear to occur in the rotator cuff and often requiring surgery to repair it.

Other symptoms that may indicate that you have shoulder impingement include:

  • Persistent aching pain in the arm
  • Pain that spreads from the front of the shoulder to the side of your arm
  • Pain that grows worse at night while trying to sleep

What causes shoulder impingement?

Generally, shoulder impingement is caused by repetitive overhead motions. Swimmers, tennis players, construction workers, painters, baseball players and weightlifters are all susceptible to shoulder impingement. 

The repetitive motions in these activities can cause irritation that leads to the shortening of the space between the acromion and the rotator cuff. Poor posture in your day-to-day life can also shorten that space, such as the way you read, work, text, drive, cook or exercise. 

How to treat shoulder impingement caused by poor posture

Regardless of the cause, the first goal of treatment is to reduce the inflammation in the joint. There are several methods of doing this, such as medication or icing, but many people will benefit from visiting a physical therapist.

Physical therapists can perform a thorough physical examination to rule out other underlying causes and create a customized treatment plan designed for you. Treatment is likely to include avoiding repetitive overhead motions for a time, but it will also include stretches to reduce the impingement and strengthening exercises to help prevent it from recurring.

In the case of shoulder impingement from poor posture, your physical therapist is also likely to recommend adjustments to improve your posture. Making sure you have an ergonomic workspace, improving your posture while doing daily tasks and stretching appropriately throughout the day will all treat the underlying cause of your shoulder impingement and help keep it from returning.

Visit Franklin Rehabilitation today for shoulder impingement treatment

Whether from poor posture or from repetitive tasks, shoulder impingement is not something to be taken lightly. If you are experiencing pain when you move your arms overhead, call and talk to a Franklin Rehab physical therapist. The sooner the condition is treated, the more successful the treatment will be. Contact our team today for more information about treating shoulder pain or to schedule an initial appointment.