The shoulder is the most flexible joint in the human body, and it frequently suffers from instability brought on by overuse. Swimmer’s shoulder, also known as shoulder impingement syndrome, is the inflammation of the shoulder typically caused by sports-related overuse. Over time, the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles around the shoulder can become irritated and inflamed by repetitive shoulder movements.
Symptoms of Swimmer’s Shoulder
Common symptoms of swimmer’s shoulder include:
- A dull ache that is present during activity and rest
- Pain that gets worse when resting/lying on the shoulder
- Shoulder or arm weakness
- Localized pain and inflammation in the shoulder
- Decreased range of motion
- Difficulty reaching behind the back
Causes of Swimmer’s Shoulder
Swimmer’s shoulder is most often caused by overuse. Repetitive movements using the shoulder muscles put wear and tear on the area and can cause inflammation of the rotator cuff. Swimming is not the only sport that can cause swimmer’s shoulder. Sports that require repetitive overhead or forceful motions such as tennis or baseball can also cause the condition to occur. Other causes include:
Lack of Strength and Flexibility
If an individual’s muscles are not strong or flexible enough, they are at risk for swimmer’s shoulder. This is especially common in athletes because the muscles become fatigued and tire easily over time, which may lead to a shoulder injury.
If an individual trains too hard without adequate rest and recovery time, they are at risk for injury. Overuse can lead to a shoulder injury and other issues.
If an individual does not maintain proper form while partaking in a sport/exercise, they are at risk of injury. In addition, if the body is not balanced correctly or overcompensates for a problem area, it can also lead to inflammation of the rotator cuff muscles.
Treatment for Swimmer’s Shoulder
Several treatments can relieve shoulder pain and help inflamed tendons heal. Common treatment options include:
- Rest: Reducing or dropping the intensity of the repetitive movements that cause pain helps inflamed tendons heal. Staying off the shoulder as much as possible is critical during treatment.
- Ice: Applying ice to the shoulder for 20 minutes several times per day can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Pain relievers: Medications may help reduce inflammation and relieve discomfort associated with swimmer’s shoulder. Common choices include aspirin, naproxen sodium (Aleve), or ibuprofen.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help strengthen the weak muscles, particularly the external shoulder rotators.
Leaving swimmer’s shoulder untreated can worsen the condition and lead to more damage, such as a labral tear or rotator cuff tear.
Rejuvinix offers a variety of non-surgical treatment options, including sports medicine. To learn more about which treatment is right for you, fill out the “Request an Appointment” form at the bottom of this page.