Shoulder Impingement Syndrome : Judo Injuries

Shoulder impingement syndrome occurs when the tendons near to the rotator cuff become inflamed and shrink the space for movement within the shoulder joint. The tendons can become trapped during arm motions and your movements can be severely restricted as a result. This is common in judo due to the focus on grappling and throwing your opponent, all of which requires strenuous over-arm movements.

Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Pain and restricted range of motion in the shoulder are the most prominent symptoms. The pain will be worse when moving the shoulder, and particularly when attempting a stressful shoulder movement such as performing a judo throw or serving a tennis ball. Weakness may also be present in the shoulder. The condition can impact on everyday movements by making them unachievable either through pain, weakness, reduced motion, or a combination of all three.

Causesof Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

It is the repeated overhead motions involved in judo that put you at risk of shoulder impingement. Specifically judo throws demand a high level of shoulder strength, as can grappling in general. The condition has overuse components in that the risks of damaging the shoulder as a result of these repetitive exercises are increased by certain factors. These include the athlete persisting in training with fatigued muscles or muscles that are not strong or developed enough to support the strain of their activities, or inadequate warm ups. In this case the rotator cuff muscles are the most important in keeping pressure from negatively impacting the surrounding tendons.

Occasionally shoulder impingement can be provoked by a hereditary condition, such as an abnormally shaped acromion bone. Diseases like shoulder bursitis or rheumatoid arthritis are another potential contributing factor.

Treatmentof Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Shoulder impingement syndrome tends to worsen over time, so it is crucial to see a doctor as soon as possible. In most cases the treatment will be conservative, with a period of strict rest from judo and other stressful activities. Icing the area and taking anti-inflammatory pain medication can relieve the symptoms. Severe swelling can necessitate steroid injections. When the pain has diminished, a course of physical therapy will help to bring your shoulder’s range of motion back to its full potential while at the same time recuperating strength.

Possible complications include tearing of the rotator cuff or a full biceps rupture. These can both be far more serious than impingement, though major impingement can also require major treatment. Arthroscopy is a common treatment option for these injuries.

Prevention for Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Try to reduce your risks by keeping the rotator cuff muscles fit, healthy, and strong enough to withstand your level of activity. If your shoulders feel noticeably weak during judo or any other sport, take a break; this will be much more beneficial in the long term than pushing through when you should be resting.

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