Sports Medicine in Baton Rouge: The Benefits of Dry Needling for Shoulder Impingement

Mar29th 2022

Athletes and people who are physically active with their upper body are at a higher risk of developing shoulder injuries and experiencing pain from overuse.  One specific and common condition is shoulder impingement.  Shoulder impingement is the painful and uncomfortable pinching of the soft tissue areas in between the shoulder’s bones and ligaments.  These soft tissue areas include tendons, muscles, the rotator cuff, and bursa.  Let’s take a closer look at the signs and causes of shoulder impingement, and more importantly how it can be treated with dry needling by your physical therapist.

Signs and Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement

The main sign of shoulder impingement is fairly simple and direct.  Most commonly there is a pinching sensation at the top of the shoulder during certain movements and actions.  These actions can be as routine as reaching over your head, or more complex athletic motions like throwing a ball or swinging a golf club.  Other symptoms can include a limited range of motion, loss of strength, and swelling or tenderness in the shoulder.

Causes and Risk Factors for Developing Shoulder Impingement

There are several factors that can lead to the development of a shoulder impingement.  Overuse of the joint is one of the most common.  Repetitive, overhead, athletic motions can increase the risk of the impingement of the soft tissue in the shoulder.  Swimming, baseball, football, and tennis athletes can frequently experience a shoulder impingement. 

Another cause of shoulder impingement stems from injuries that been left untreated or reaggravated.  A torn labrum is a common shoulder injury that can increase the risk of developing an impingement in the future.

Your shoulder’s anatomy also plays a large role in the potential of developing an impingement.  A narrow subacromial space can increase the chance that the shoulder’s soft tissue can become pinched.  Also, the shape of your shoulder’s acromion bones, whether curved or hooked can also influence how the joint operates.

While shoulder impingement can occur for a variety of reasons at any age, it is often seen more often in patients over the age of 50.  Poor posture, like slouching, or sitting at a desk for a long period of time can also lead to a shoulder impingement.

How Can Dry Needling Treat Shoulder Impingement and Other Injuries?

Dry needling treatment uses a small needle to stimulate the trigger points in the shoulder’s muscles, causing them to relax.  While this type of therapy decreases pain, it also resets the neurological control where the nerves and muscles meet.  The muscles in the upper back, rotator cuff, and supraspinatus muscle can all be relaxed by minimizing overactive muscle activating near the subacromial space, eliminating the pinching sensation of the shoulder’s soft tissue.

Dry needling, as well as joint manipulation, and other physical therapy applications are very effective in the relief of pain and restoration of range of motion.  The expert staff at Evolve Physical Therapy understands the needs, goals, and objectives of all athletes and create an effective, personalized treatment plan to get them back in healthy, comfortable action.