Shoulder Impingement Syndrome (SIS) is a common cause of shoulder pain, often seen in aging adults. It occurs when there is impingement of tendons or bursa â€” structures that support bone and muscle in the shoulder.
Overhead activity of the shoulder, especially repeated activity including painting, lifting, swimming, tennis and other overhead sports are big risk factors of SIS. Other risk factors include bone and joint abnormalities.
Many times, we mix up frozen shoulder (FS) with Shoulder Impingement Syndrome (SIS). The main difference is that SIS produces pain while movement and decreases with rest and sleep. But FS is a big cause of sleep disturbance.
The typical symptoms of impingement syndrome include difficulty reaching up behind the back, pain with overhead use of the arm and weakness of shoulder muscles.
If tendons are injured for a long period of time, the tendon can actually tear in two, resulting in a rotator cuff tear. This causes significant weakness and can make it difficult for the person to elevate his/her arm.
Pain control and repair of wasted muscle (if any) is the main aim of management. Oral painkillers remain the most common treatment for impingement syndrome. Medicine is usually given for one to three weeks since it often takes that long to fully treat the problem.
It is strongly recommended that you should not take these medications without consulting a doctor as these have several side effects like bleeding, gastric irritation and may not be suitable for you.
Daily stretching in a warm shower will help. You should work to reach your thumb up and behind your back. Avoid repetitive activities with your injured arm, particularly activities where the elbow would move above shoulder level.
The write up is compiled by
Dr Mohammad Ali, Director and Chief Consultant of Hasna Hena Pain and Physiotherapy Research Center (HPRC), Dhaka.