Shoulder pain occurs in patients at all ages and all levels of physical activity. While overuse injuries are common in the shoulder, in many cases, an individual’s sleep posture can also be to blame for rotator cuff pain.

The rotator cuff muscles are very small muscles that essentially serve to keep space through the bones of the shoulder during motion as well as provide stability to the shoulder joint. When one of the four rotator cuff muscles is injured, many of the supporting muscles around the shoulder are tasked with attempting to assist the cuff in those functions. As you’d expect, the supporting muscles are not capable of performing that task, and that results in pain.

Diagnosis of a condition like shoulder impingement begins with a medical history and physical examination. X-rays can help rule out arthritis reveal any changes in the bone that  may be causing injury to the muscle. The identifying symptom of shoulder impingement syndrome, as opposed to other kinds of shoulder pain, is called a “painful arc,” pain when lifting the arm above shoulder height.

Non-Surgical Treatment for Rotator Cuff Pain

Two incredibly effective, non-surgical treatment options for this condition include:

Physical therapy. It might be surprising to learn that best way to treat this condition (aside from stopping the pinch) is to use the affected rotator cuff muscle more.  A physical therapist can help restore normal motion to your shoulder with a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises. Guided stretching of the posterior capsule can be very effective in stimulating blood flow and relieving pain in the shoulder. Once pain is relieved, a physical therapist can develop a strengthening program for the rotator cuff muscles to help rebuild support for the joint.

Steroid injections. If physical therapy and home exercise do not relieve your pain, a cortisone injection is a very effective treatment. A sports medicine doctor delivers anti-inflammatory medicine directly into the muscle to relieve pain. The injection typically includes an anesthetic to numb the shoulder to increase patient comfort.

There is no set time frame for overcoming a shoulder impingement, but patients who are proactive in their treatment and activity generally recover more quickly. If diagnosed quickly, the vast majority of patients who have impingement syndrome are successfully treated with physical therapy and the temporary avoidance of repetitive overhead activity.