Impingement Syndrome (cont.)

How Is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome Treated?

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It is important to understand that the condition and not just the symptoms require treatment. Oral anti-inflammatory medications ?such as aspirin, naproxen or ibuprofen, remain the most common treatment for this condition.

You must consistently take the medication for nearly eight weeks for it to be effective. Taking anti-inflammatory medications for a short period of time may treat the symptom of pain, but it will not treat the underlying problem and symptoms will come back. There is no specific medication for this condition and response to any given medication differs from person to person. If one anti-inflammatory medication does not help within 10 to 14 days, then another one will be given until one that provides relief is found.

In addition to taking medications, daily stretching in a warm shower will help. Work to reach your thumb up and behind your back. Avoid repetitive activities with your injured arm, particularly where the elbow would move above shoulder level. Avoid vacuuming, painting, raking leaves and washing the car.

If you have persistent symptoms, despite the use of oral anti-inflammatory medications, your doctor may consider a cortisone-type injection. Cortisone is a potent anti-inflammatory medication, which should be used only when necessary because it can result in weakening of muscles and tendons.

If symptoms persist or if significant weakness is present, then your doctor may perform an MRI or arthrogram to rule out a rotator cuff tear. If the cuff is torn, surgery may be necessary to repair it.

The vast majority of people who have impingement syndrome are successfully treated with medication, stretching exercises and temporary avoidance of repetitive overhead activity until the condition settles down.

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