The shoulder consists of a few tendons, muscles, and joints. Altogether, these elements bring in a high level of flexibility and lots of motion range. This whole group is scientifically referred to as the rotator cuff. But then, just like any other part of your body, it could be exposed to small problems that may cause painful sensations.
There are times when the pain occurs as you try to raise the arm above the shoulders. Tendons may also get pinched, leading to painful sensations. The so-called shoulder injury is referred to as shoulder impingement, and it normally affects people over 50 years old or athletes – anyone can experience the problem though.
If the problem is persistent and the pain is difficult to cope with, chances are you need to see an orthopedic doctor. But then, if the issue is light and you can still operate fairly good, learning how to fix shoulder impingement at home is just a matter of random exercises and a few techniques to ameliorate the pain. Here are some of the things you can do.
How to fix shoulder impingement
1. Sleep and rest more
Your body recovers and heals by itself while you sleep, so avoid burning out and rest as much as you can. Avoid overhead activities, regardless of their profile. Rigorous work should also be avoided. Take it easy and avoid unnecessary effort, especially if it involves using arms. This is one of the best ways to heal inflammation.
If you do have to work with your arms and your work is laborious, simply take a few days off to recover and watch your shoulder as you return to work.
2. Get some ice packs
Ice is a great anti-inflammatory option – a natural one with no side effects too. Sure, a pack of ice may not be the most comfortable thing on your shoulder, but it will help with the swelling. It will also boost circulation, meaning fresh and clean blood will reach the affected area – faster to heal. Apply cold every few hours during the first 48 hours after the pain kicks in. Within a few days, you should feel much better.
3. Apply heat
Heat works on different principles, but it has the same effect as ice. Hot packs will relieve the painful sensations and can increase the blood flow for faster healing. There are more ways to apply heat. Heat packs or pads are inexpensive and available in most pharmacies. You can use cold and hot packs intermittently – just give yourself a few hours before switching from one to another.
4. Physical therapy
Physical therapy is the first thing that comes to your mind when not sure how to fix shoulder impingement. It will restore the normal motion of your shoulder in no time – much faster than letting it heal by itself. There are various stretching exercises that can help in the process, but at the same time, avoid putting too much pressure on the shoulder. If these exercises feel uncomfortable or painful, you risk aggravating the condition.
You can always ask a therapist for advice – you can do some exercise at home, while others must be done in a clinic. As the pain improves a little, you may want to do some strengthening exercises. You need to focus on the muscles in the rotator cuff. Daily stretching and a hot shower will ameliorate the discomfort.
5. Manual therapy
Manual therapy overlaps with physical therapy. However, this type of therapy brings in a more hands-on approach. Practically, there are specific techniques that manipulate the joints in the shoulder. They usually require both hands and a bit of knowledge, or you might aggravate the problem. In other words, you should reach to a professional. Some of the doctors who can do such therapies include osteopaths, chiropractors, and physiotherapists.
6. Electrophysical therapy
Electrophysical therapy can be taken at home and implies using various agents. The TENS (Transcutaneous Electromagnetic Stimulation) technique is the most common one. Such machines are inexpensive and provide the relief you require. Bipolar interferential current, PEMF or LLLT machines are also available on the market, not to mention therapeutic ultrasound.
Such therapies are more efficient when mixed with various exercises.
Painkillers are some of the first things you will think about when not sure how to fix shoulder impingement. After all, they will target the pain straight away and can give you the comfort you are after. There are more medications to try for inflammation out there – over the counter. You can get sprays, gels or creams, as well as tablets.
Drugs have side effects though, and will only work on the effect and not the cause. Ideally, you should seek advice from your doctor – after all, painkillers should be used for small periods of time only.
8. Steroid injections
Steroid injections also require help from a specialist doctor. Rest and various types of therapy should give you enough pain relief. Pain killers can also help. But if the pain still persists, the problem is more complicated and requires more. Steroid injections are given by doctors and usually go right into the shoulder joint. Too many injections will weaken the tendon and muscles, hence the necessity of getting the shot in a specialized environment.
As a short final conclusion, learning how to fix shoulder impingement is not that difficult. If the issue is caused by a painful injury and the pain is excruciating, seek help from a doctor. Otherwise, chances are it will heal by itself. Pain should be history within a few days or a week, but the shoulder will not be completely healed – therefore, you still have to be cautious when working or using it. Shoulder impingement could require up to six months to be properly healed – at least three months. A severe injury may take up to a year. The good news is you can return to your everyday activities within a few weeks. You should be able to handle the situation yourself, yet very severe cases need professional advice.
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