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Can shoulder impingement last a year?

My shoulder started hurting 14 months ago.  I wrote it off as a pulled muscle.  The pain was mild and intermittent, and did not interfere with my non-exercise life, but it wouldn't go away, and I also noticed some painful clicking and grinding sensatios.  

10 months ago I went to get it checked out by an ortho.  X-rays came out good, but they did not do MRI.  He said it was likely impingement, but he did not rule out bicep tendinopathy or labral pathology, but he said it didn't matter because treatment is the same.  He sent me home with anti-inflammatory meds and physio exercises to do.

The meds and exercises helped.  Clicking and grinding has reduced, and pain has reduced considerably, to the point I am able to do most weight lifting exercises (even overhead ones, though I stay away from these mostly), albeit not at full strength.  But some mild pain is still there when I'm extending my arm behind me or pressing on my belly.  It feels like my posterior deltoid is sore when I do these things.  Pull ups also seem to hurt.

I do not seem to have any of the symptoms of a labral tear or bicep tendinopathy, and I seem to be in a LOT less pain than people with such issues.  Can impingement last a year?  

For context:  Male, late 30s, not an athlete but am a frequent weight lifter, few overhead motions compared to most weight trainers, and did not have any traumatic injury that could have caused this.
1 Responses
Avatar universal
What I know about PT, and I've had way too much, is that you have to ice, rest, elevate for some period of time for healing to occur.  If you didn't do that, and God knows most of us don't when we're young, it probably never had time to heal.  But my experience is, PT doesn't really fix anything, mostly the therapist just tells you not to do whatever it was that hurt you and when you start again it often just comes back again because it never fully heals for some of us when we're unlucky.  Lifting weights with a bad shoulder would seem to be just the thing not to do if rest was required, but you know better what you were told you could and shouldn't do.  Also, the same condition in one person can be really mild and in another crippling.  We're just built differently, and anyone who is athletic in any regular way tolerates more pain than those who aren't because things like weight lifting cause some pain anyway.  Meaning, no way to really tell.  If it lasts or worsens, you have two options:  stop doing whatever hurts it for as long as it takes or return to the ortho for that MRI.  Probably, though, you'd be sent back for more PT, as the pain and restriction of movement doesn't seem that bad.  Peace.
1 Comments
Thanks for your response.  This is helpful information.  You are right that the pain and restriction of motion is not bad at all.  I have more than 90% range of motion, and pain is at most a 2/10 when doing aggravating movements, and a 0/10 at other times.  I was told that it is safe to lift weights, but to avoid overhead movements (which I have been avoiding), and avoid anything that hurts.
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