Pain with reaching over the head or behind the back are two of the most common symptoms associated with bicep/rotator cuff impingement. Thankfully, this diagnosis can be addressed with physical therapy.
Common symptoms of bicep/rotator cuff impingement are pain in the front of the shoulder when trying to reach above head or behind teh back, pain with getting dressed, pain when lying on the affected side, and feeling weak throughout the shoulder and arm.
The rotator cuff is comprised of four muscles that surround the shoulder blade with the main job of keeping the “ball” of the shoulder joint stabilized in the “socket” of the joint. The biceps are the more dominant muscles in the front of the arm that help to bend the elbow and raise the shoulder. Bicep/rotator cuff impingement is a diagnosis used to describe the result of narrowing of space between two bony structures that presses on the tendon of a rotator cuff muscle.
Most common causes of rotator cuff impingement are overuse/overhead activities, weakness of the rotator cuff muscles, postural impairments, or trauma.
Your physical therapist will first take a history of your symptoms, including questions to understand your pain pattern, history of symptoms, how your symptoms affect your function throughout the day, and any help or doctors you may have seen. Next, your therapist will perform a thorough examination of your shoulder mobility, strength, muscle flexibility, and ability to perform functional activities (such as reaching overhead). Performing a comprehensive evaluation will help the therapist to understand the cause of the symptoms and how to treat it.
Treatment and Exercises
Your treatment plan will be personalized to you and your goals for therapy, whether it is getting back to tennis or being able to wash your hair without pain. The program will likely include hands on therapy and exercises focused on strengthening and flexibility that will help you get back to living the life you want.
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