shoulder impingement

What is Shoulder Impingement?

What is Shoulder Impingement?


This common injury occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff become overused and injured.  The subsequent pain and swelling reduces the shoulder mobility leading to impingement. The tendons of the rotator cuff slide between the clavicle and the humerous in the shoulder joint. When the tendons are inflamed or damaged this slide is no longer smooth and the friction causes pain and compression of the tendon leading to pain.  


While the rotator cuff muscles are involved in moving the arm, they are also essential to stabilizing the top of the humerous in the joint socket during activity. If these muscles become weak the humerous can drift out and put the tendons in a compromised position. Imbalance between the strength of the chest and the strength of the upper back can also lead to the shoulder being poorly aligned in the joint socket. This again leads to extra wear and tear on the tendon.  


At Inner Gate Acupuncture your acupuncturist will perform a full evaluation of your body and of the shoulder joint.  Properly identifying the main causes of the shoulder impingement, we determine the best course of treatment. Treatment focuses on calming the inflamed tissue, creating space for proper tendon glide and rebalancing the shoulder, back and chest muscles.  Acupuncture can relieve shortened muscle, active weak muscles and relieve inflammation locally. Manual therapy, cupping and tuina massage are often also used to deepen and improved the treatment.  

Healing a Rotator Cuff Injury

Four muscles form the rotator cuff, the Subscapularis, Infraspinatus, Teres minor, and Supraspinatus. These muscles all protect the shoulder and provide it with great range of motion.

A rotator cuff injury can happen to any one of these muscles' tendons.  Pain from a tear leads to restricted shoulder movement.  Tears can occur from injuries or can be caused by "wear and tear" from regular use of the shoulder.  The most common tear is to the Supraspinatus tendon at the top of the shoulder.

At Inner Gate Acupuncture we use orthopedic testing to determine exactly which muscles and tendons are affected and prescribe a treatment plan to help you get full use of your shoulder as quickly and non-invasively as possible.  If we determine that you're tear is too substantial for acupuncture treatment to be effective we will refer you to trusted clinicians for imaging and other options.

Rotator Cuff Injury

If you had a rotator cuff injury and your shoulder has been surgically repaired, acupuncture can help advance the recovery by increasing blood flow, reducing scar formation, and encouraging the full recovery of normal range of motion.