Shoulder Impingement / rotator cuff problems

Just looking for some info / advice on shoulder impingements or rotator cuff injuries. Before going on I’ll point out I have been to various physios and my doctor - I’m currently awaiting an appointment with a ortho-surgeon, but that is over a month away… I’ve been told it is an impingement and probably not an RC tear, but as it drags on and doesn’t respond I’m kind of wondering.

Basically I had low level shoulder pain (both shoulders) for a few months. I’d been going to a physio and it seemed to get a little better. At some point I fell off a skateboard onto my right shoulder - which is now considerably worse!

During this time I was OK doing most activities - even swimming and surfing seemed not to bother it too much. Anyway, the weird part is that I got Covid, and had around two weeks of resting. After I went for a surf and it was just so much worse, particularly on the right side.

Since then (about 6 weeks) I have rested the shoulder and just done the basic physio exercises, but it isn’t getting any better in fact possibly worse. Last time I tried to go for a surf I basically had to turn around before I even caught a wave. Even riding the bike bothers it - I have flipped the stem on my trainer bike to try and make it less of a problem, but no TT bike - which is my thing at the moment.

I did get an x-ray a while back, and they said signs of general wear and tear / mild osteo-arthritis. But this being the UK, your lucky to even see a doctor, let alone get an in depth explanation. They offered me a steroid injection, which I’m still waiting to hear back on.

Sorry, to make a length post about my medical issues, but I’m getting more than a little frustrated not being able to bike, swim or surf at the moment, so am somewhat grasping at straws.

Just wondered if anyone had any experience with this type of injury as I seem to have run out of professional help for the next month.

You need to have an MRI done to see soft tissue issues. Mine was clearly torn before getting the MRI - I held my hands straight out in front, my doctor pushed down, and the side with a tear couldn’t hold my hand level to the ground (he wasn’t pushing hard!!!). While waiting for the MRI, and waiting for surgery, I did simple strengthening exercises. Many of those were the same as post-surgery rehabilitation.

Good luck!

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I’ve decreased my impingement pain by never doing any internal rotation types of exercises and only doing external rotation types of exercises. External stretching the shoulder helps too.

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A great PT (or two) with experience helps tremendously. I had rotator cuff surgery and repair of torn bicep, and the PTs brought it home on that shoulder and the “good one”. One PT stressed mobility and my other guy stressed strength. I responded to a combination of both. If still no relief then go get MRI and consider surgery. Surgery is brutal so mu opinion is try everything else before that. Good luck!

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I’m not a medic, so not qualified to offer advice about your injury, but I can recommend you talk with your doctor to get yourself a referral to see an orthopaedic surgeon. They may recommend you have a MRI scan which will show up things that an X ray does not. You may have a ligament or tendon tear in there. Your skateboard crash could have caused some damage of that nature.
If you’re happy to go private to see the consultant, and also the MRI scan it is really worth it as you can get seen quicky without the long NHS wait.
If you need an op, then you can have that on NHS, or choose to pay £9000 or so. :scream:
For my partial knee resurfacing, I went private. The consultant’s fee was around £120, and the MRI scan I had done by Vista health which was around £200.
They would not do the op (in 2017) on NHS, so I paid for it, having cashed in some savings.
It was around £9000 inlusive of 6 weeks rehab physio. After that I had to pay , but was able to use the gym and walk/jog on a Alter G treadmill.
I know this isn’t relevant to your injury, but it might help you get treatment sooner!

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Ps, Be assertive and persistent with your Doctor. Don’t tolerate indifference . It’s your life, mental and physical wellbeing.

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Yes, an MRI will be more informative than an x-ray shoulder tendons. I had this problem, and was diagnosed with supraspinatus tendonitis/tendonosis. It was bad enough that I nearly had a frozen shoulder, as it hurt to raise my arm at all. I was doing a fair amount of strength training at the time, some of it overhead, which I’m fairly sure caused this, along with genetic hypermobility in my joints. What did the trick was a cortisone shot followed by physical therapy for about 8 weeks. After a few months my shoulder felt good as new, although I avoid overhead weight training.

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Yes, a great PT helps! I ended up at a small company that specializes in sports injury presentation and rehab. They have a lot of PTs and do work for the local minor league baseball team, University sports teams, and many high school teams. They were so much better than the local PT that my doctor initially sent me to, before seeing the orthopedic surgeon and MRI.

Yeh, think I’ll pay to have an MRI done. I didn’t think it was a tear because I don’t think I have lost any strength - just range of movement. It’s just the fact it isn’t responding to the standard conservative PT stuff that has me concerned.

Interesting - my wife says I have hypermobility, but I don’t really know what it means. Will have to Google it now!

I guess I might have been doing some strength training when this started. Was certainly doing a fair few OHPs on the Stronglifts 5x5 program about a year ago. That and it has affected both shoulders…

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Hypermobility pretty much means that you have more flexibility in your joints than normal. For me, I can put both feet behind my head, and can put my head down to my knees on hamstring stretches. It also means I am prone to ligament sprains, as I’ve sprained both ankles at least 5 times.

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Yes am paying to see an orthopedic surgeon as I don’t think the NHS will be in a position to do anything for a good while now. And appreciate your point below - I think this is a British problem. We are very fortunate to have the NHS, but also too willing to be fobbed off too.

TBH, I’d pay for the op - I have some lovely bikes and surfboards gathering dust, and I’m not getting any younger either!

I had impingement syndrome a few years back, along with partial locked shoulder on my right side.
After a lot of PT, a few cortisone shots, it eventually got better. My best guess as to the cause for me was my sleeping position. Up until this point my preferred sleeping position was on my stomach with my arms under the pillow. This would put my shoulders in a bad position impingement wise. 6-9 months after I switched to sleeping on my back and/or with my arms at my sides if on my stomach I’m better and have not had problems since. Sleeping position as a possible cause never came up with the doctor or PTs, but after learning more about what causes it and movements/positions that can aggravate the condition I made the change and it seemed to help. I think it was more than a year into the process where I made the sleeping change - I had been doing all the exercises, etc for many months with now improvement before I changed how I slept.
My exact circumstances are likely fairly unique, but something ‘unrelated’ to exercise, etc. could be related to your condition. Looking back for me this seems almost obvious, but it really took me a long time to make that realization, and be determined enough to change a life-long sleeping position - that’s not a fun change to make :slight_smile:


I saw an orthopedic surgeon a couple of years back for a similar sounding problem. I have had mobility /impingement problems in my right shoulder (at least) since I broke my collarbone in 2005. I started playing tennis, and then started weight training (5x5) and my shoulder got pretty painful. I could move it in all the directions, it just hurt when I played tennis, washed my hair, etc.

The doctor I saw gave me the push tests and said it definitely wasn’t a complete tear of the rotator cuff. He said the x-rays looked fine, and there was no point doing an MRI to see if it was a minor RC tear or tendonitis, because the treatment for either would be the same. 2 weeks of anti-inflammatories (naproxen) to calm it down, and about 6 weeks of PT. No sleeping on my right side, no tennis or weights for a month.

After a month I got back to tennis with an extended warm-up routine, and cool down stretches to do after.

I was planning to get back to the gym, but I never got around to it before Covid happened. For most of 2020/21 I did a few kettlebell exercises and a bodyweight program from GMB. I was pleasantly surprised that the GMB program seemed to make my shoulder feel better rather than worse. I have been riding my bike and playing a little bit of tennis and I haven’t really thought about it at all.

I started back at the gym a few weeks ago. I’m using dumbells for overhead press and being very conservative with the weight progression, but my shoulder already feels slightly less happy, so we’ll see how far that goes…

Hope this gives you some hope. BTW, I definitely don’t have hyper mobility.

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