Swimmer's Shoulder Treatment in Frisco & Dallas

Swimmer's Shoulder Treatment in Dallas

Swimmer's Shoulder Treatment in Dallas & Frisco, Texas

As many athletes already know, it is unfortunately easy to sustain a sports injury. Swimmers are no exception. The repetitive motions that many people engage in on a daily basis can cause conditions like tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, and swimmer’s shoulder. Unlike the name suggests, swimmer’s shoulder affects not only swimmers, but also baseball players, tennis players, construction workers, and electricians. If you feel you might have swimmer’s shoulder, we recommend speaking with a Dallas orthopedic specialist right away.

At SPORT Orthopedics & Physical Therapy, we have the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions and injuries. We offer only the best in Dallas physical therapy and orthopedic surgery. To schedule an appointment with us, please call 469-200-2832 or fill out our online intake form.

What Is Swimmer’s Shoulder?

This condition involves the tissues, tendons, and bones of the shoulder joint. When someone experiences swimmer’s shoulder, the affected tendons of the shoulder become inflamed and swell up. They press against the bones nearby, as well as the other tendons and muscles. Many doctors refer to this condition as shoulder impingement, painful arc, or subacromial impingement. In short, swimmer’s shoulder is a type of tendinitis in the shoulder.

The inflammation that this condition causes tends to affect the rotator cuff tendons. These tendons then put pressure on the acromion, or the top part of your shoulder blade (scapula). When there is friction against the scapula, this sometimes causes bone spurs to develop. Bone spurs have the potential to be highly uncomfortable or even painful.

Swimmer's Shoulder

What Causes Swimmer’s Shoulder?

The shoulder is a highly mobile joint in the body. For this reason, it requires a good amount of support from the surrounding muscles and ligaments. It is possible to overwork the muscles and ligaments in the following ways.

  • Training too much
  • Using poor techniques
  • Fatigued muscles
  • Hypermobility
  • Having a previous shoulder injury
  • Using hand paddles that are too large

If you continue to overwork the shoulder joint, the following other injuries and conditions can occur if left untreated.

  • Capsule and ligament damage
  • Cartilage damage
    Bursitis
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Rotator cuff impingement and tendonitis
  • Labral tear

Tendon and muscle tissue in the shoulder joint get irritated as a result of repeated tension. Tiny rips form, causing inflammation and scar tissue to form. This injury makes it difficult for the joint to move freely.

Symptoms of Swimmer’s Shoulder

Many people mistake the early symptoms of swimmer’s shoulder for a simple soreness. However, normal muscle soreness differs greatly from an overuse injury such as shoulder impingement. We list the symptoms of swimmer’s shoulder below.

  • Having a hard time reaching behind your back
  • Feeling pain when you extend your arm overhead
  • Inflammation or pain localized in the shoulder joint
  • Pain extending down the neck or arm
  • Tenderness in the area
  • A decrease in your normal range of motion, muscle performance, or joint function
  • A change in the pattern of your swimming stroke

Bear in mind that swimmer’s shoulder is not restricted to one specific area of the shoulder joint. People experience the pain in both the front and back of the shoulder. It can either radiate or remain localized. Additionally, many people exacerbate the issue by continuing to swim and use repetitive stroke motions. If these symptoms don’t quite sound like your injury, you might have a shoulder labral tear.

Who Is Affected by Swimmer’s Shoulder?

Swimming distances of up to nine miles per day are common among high-performance swimmers, placing them at risk for overuse issues such shoulder impingement. Anyone who lifts or reaches overhead with their shoulders on a regular basis might experience this condition. Shoulder tendon discomfort is also common among baseball players, tennis players, construction workers, and electricians. Conditions with similar sports-related names are tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.

How Is Swimmer’s Shoulder Diagnosed?

You should consult an orthopedic shoulder specialist in Dallas if you have any sort of shoulder discomfort that does not go away on its own or is hurting your performance, sleep, or daily activities.

Most doctors begin with a physical exam of the shoulder. This helps to determine the severity of your pain, as well as its location, timing, and radiation. It also allows them to test the strength of your muscles and your joint mobility. They will discuss whether or not you have undergone changes in your daily activities or training that might have triggered shoulder impingement.

Depending on how the physical examination progresses, your doctor may request imaging tests. Imaging tests like X-rays and MRIs help to both rule out anatomical abnormalities and get a better view of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and rotator cuff. Once they have all the necessary information, they will likely start to develop a treatment plan for you.

How to Treat Swimmer’s Shoulder

Proper treatment plans adapt to the specific needs of each patient. Therefore, the process doesn’t always look the same or include the same steps. Below, we outline common stages that swimmer’s shoulder treatment might include.

  • RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. After sustaining the injury, it’s important to rest the affected area and apply ice to reduce swelling.
  • NSAIDs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are useful for both pain management and reducing inflammation.
    Professional passive care: This might include ultrasound therapy, interferential currents, trigger point release, neck or shoulder adjustments, post-isometric relaxation of the muscles, or cross friction tendon massage.
  • Rehabilitation exercises: Certain exercises help to strengthen the weakened muscles. Ask your doctor about the appropriate exercises, and use minimal to no weights. We recommend performing these exercises at least two to three times a week, especially if you have a history of shoulder problems.
  • Modify your training/form: If your form or training needs work, speak with an expert. Have a coach or close friend demonstrate how to hold your body in order to avoid injury. You can also have them record a video of your shoulder movement. This way, you have a clear view of what needs improvement.

Do I Need Surgery for Swimmer’s Shoulder?

The majority of people who have swimmer’s shoulder do not require surgery. However, if conservative therapy fails to relieve shoulder discomfort, surgery is an alternative. A process known as subacromial decompression can be performed by a surgeon. In the shoulder, it eliminates inflammatory tissue and bone spurs.

In some circumstances, surgeons can treat patients using a minimally invasive procedure. A surgeon makes numerous small incisions around the shoulder during arthroscopic shoulder decompression. A tiny, illuminated tube called an arthroscope is used by the surgeon to get access to the shoulder joint. The surgeon can perform the shoulder arthroscopy procedure without making a major incision.

Physical Therapy for Swimmer’s Shoulder

Physical therapy is generally a beneficial and crucial treatment for recovery from swimmer’s shoulder in addition to one or more of the above techniques. Because the rotator cuff muscles are difficult to reach, a physical therapist or orthopedist can loosen and massage them manually. This relieves stress and helps to avoid discomfort in the future.

If you’ve recovered sufficiently, the orthopedist will likely have you do specialized workouts to address your rotator cuff muscles. These muscles may be strengthened to give the shoulder joint support during activity, making it more impervious against injury in the future. Your shoulder orthopedist may also aid you in reconditioning your shoulder to avoid it becoming a weakness.

Athletes typically benefit from sports rehabilitation, and this can allow you to keep swimming while recovering. You may also use a variety of strategies to relieve strain on your shoulder joints. Before and even after swimming, it’s also vital to warm up and cool down your muscles.

How to Prevent Swimmer’s Shoulder

It’s important to remember that certain lifestyle changes and exercises can significantly reduce your risk of swimmer’s shoulder. We list these below.

  • Avoid the repetitive stress on your shoulders as much as you can.
  • Practice the proper techniques regarding form and mechanics while you work or exercise.
  • Rest for a full day if you feel your shoulder become overused or tired.
  • Warm up before physical activity and cool down after.

Stretches for Swimmer’s Shoulder

The three most prevalent locations with tension or tightness that require correction are the posterior rotator cuff muscles, pectoral muscles, and the thoracic spine. These three stretches will assist you in addressing these problem areas. If you’re having shoulder discomfort before doing these exercises, consult a doctor to get a proper diagnosis of your issue.

Shoulder External Rotators

Stand with your elbow by your side and bent out at 90 degrees close to a door frame. Forward-rotate your body, maintaining your elbow at your side, until you feel a pull in the front of your shoulder.

You can alternatively lie on your back on the floor, bending your elbow out 90 degrees with your elbows to your sides. Keep your shoulder flat on the ground by tucking your hand under something.

Thoracic Spine Mobility

Place a wedge beneath your thoracic spine by lying down on your back and bending your legs up. Allow yourself to unwind while sitting on this wedge. Place a cloth over the wedge if it’s too uncomfortable. Crossing one’s arms over one’s chest is a beginner’s technique. Individuals who are more advanced will place their arms behind their heads. Lift your hips upward while pushing with your legs to enhance the force via the wedge for the upper thoracic. For mid-lower thoracic, keep your buttocks down.

Pec Major Stretch

Take a seat on the floor. Stretch your legs out to the sides, knees bent and the soles of your feet touching. Maintain a straight back. Place your elbows on your thighs or knees and press your forearms towards the floor.

Contact SPORT Orthopedics and Physical Therapy Today

If you suffer from swimmer’s shoulder or a similar condition, we’re here to help. At SPORT Orthopedics and Physical Therapy, we focus on treating your injuries so you can get back to your active lifestyle. We prioritize your comfort above all else, aiming to provide you with the smoothest recovery possible. To schedule an appointment with us, please call 312-321-1111 or fill out our online intake form today.