Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis

How Physiotherapy Can Help Construction Workers Suffering From Shoulder Impingement

A career in construction can be a reliable and lucrative source of income, but it is also one of the most physically punishing jobs out there, and labouring on a job site can be particularly harsh on the shoulders. Many construction veterans suffer from a condition known as shoulder impingement, and this nasty joint condition can dramatically reduce mobility in your shoulders and arms, not to mention cause a considerable amount of pain.

What Is Shoulder Impingement?

Each of your shoulders is given strength and stability by their rotator cuffs, groups of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joints. However, the tendons of the rotator cuffs are vulnerable to damage caused by repetitive motion, particularly when you are working with your arms above your head. As you can imagine, all the overhead work done on an average construction site leaves construction workers and skilled labourers very vulnerable to developing shoulder impingement syndrome.

The classic symptoms of shoulder impingement are pain and stiffness in the shoulders that becomes worse when you raise your arms above your head; however, more advanced cases can cause you pain and mobility problems even when your arms are in a neutral position. This pain can also spread to the arms and back, and shoulder impingements that are left untreated for too long can eventually cause the tendons to tear, which is a serious problem which may require surgery to correct.

How Can Physiotherapists Help Treat My Shoulder Impingement?

Painkilling medications can numb the symptoms of this painful condition, but they do nothing to treat the problem itself. Your doctor can recommend a variety of therapies to help an impinged shoulder heal, and one of the best is physiotherapy. Working with an accredited, reputable physiotherapist can help your damaged shoulder in a number of ways:

Reduce inflammation

The tendon damage that characterises shoulder impingement is caused by the tendons rubbing against the bones of the shoulder. This causes the tendons to inflame, which increases friction between bone and tendon and makes the problem worse.

To reduce this inflammation and allow the healing process to begin, physiotherapists have a number of tools at their disposal. Heat therapy and specialised ice packs work well for immediately reducing inflammation and relieving pain, while soft tissue massage can further reduce inflammation and help move the tendons back to their natural positions. Many physios also offer electrical stimulation of the shoulder tendons with TENS machines, which can reduce both pain and inflammation.

Rehabilitate the shoulder(s)

Once the pain and inflammation have subsided, your physio can start work on healing the damage caused. Gentle mobility and strengthening exercises, such as weightlifting and callisthenics, can help restore the strength and mobility your shoulder(s) once had and heal damage caused to the tendons and muscles.

Your physio will also guide you through stretching and range-of-motion exercises, which improve shoulder mobility and prevent scar tissue from forming. This is particularly useful if you have had corrective surgery, which often causes scar tissue formation which can permanently damage muscles and tendons.

Improve your posture

In many cases, poor posture while working can contribute to shoulder impingement problems, and your physiotherapist will help you address this. By analysing the way you stand, move and use your arms, your physiotherapist can help you correct any defects in your posture and gait, which can significantly decrease the chances of your shoulder problems coming back.

Contact a local general physiotherapy clinic to learn more.