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A Guide to Shoulder Impingement

Have you been experiencing shoulder pain as you raise your arms or have your shoulders been getting progressively sore? This could be due to a condition called shoulder impingement and can be treated quite successfully with a non-invasive physical therapy treatment, including physiotherapy, chiropractic care, and massage therapy.

What is Shoulder Impingement?

Shoulder impingement is a common condition that occurs when the tendons or bursa in the shoulder become irritated or compressed. This can lead to pain and difficulty moving the arm, which can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. The condition is most commonly seen in people who engage in repetitive overhead movements, such as athletes and manual labourers, but it can also occur in people who have poor posture or a previous injury.

What Causes Shoulder Impingement?

The causes of shoulder impingement are complex and not fully understood. However, it is generally believed to result from a combination of factors. These can include poor posture, muscle imbalances, and degeneration of the tendons and bursa. Poor posture can cause the shoulders to roll forward, which can lead to impingement of the tendons and bursa as they pass through the narrow space between the acromion and the rotator cuff. Additionally, muscle imbalances can cause the shoulder blade to rotate upward, which can also lead to impingement.


The symptoms of shoulder impingement can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Mild cases may only cause occasional pain and discomfort. More severe cases can lead to chronic pain and limited range of motion. The most common symptoms include pain in the shoulder especially when lifting or reaching overhead. As well as weakness in the arm, and a popping or snapping sensation when moving the arm.


The treatment of shoulder impingement depends on the underlying cause of the condition. In most cases, conservative treatments such as physical therapy, including physiotherapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, and anti-inflammatory methods can be effective in relieving symptoms. Physical therapy can help to improve alignment, posture, strength, and flexibility while reducing muscle imbalances. Initially applying ice to the area will help reduce inflammation and pain, for more chronic cases heat should be applied to promote healing. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to release the compressed tendons or bursa.

Prevention of shoulder impingement is key and is best achieved by maintaining good posture, avoiding repetitive overhead movements, and maintaining a good level of physical fitness. Everyone should engage in regular conditioning and stretching exercises to maintain strength and flexibility in the shoulder.

Where to Get Help

Shoulder impingement is a common condition we see in our clinics. It is common with people who engage in repetitive overhead movements, and office workers with poor posture or a previous injury. It can cause pain, weakness, and reduced range of motion. Further, it can also have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. If you are looking for help to relieve symptoms of shoulder impingement, our team of physiotherapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists are here to help! We would be more than happy to assess your shoulder. You can learn more about our healthcare services online or call the CURAVITA Byward Clinic at 613-860-8600 or the CURAVITA Glebe Clinic at 613-237-9000 to book an appointment with any of our healthcare providers. 

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