Pain in your Shoulder? It isn’t just going to go away!

I have seen patients in the clinic who come to me with complaints of shoulder pain, often describing it as a subtle pain that started a few weeks back, but they don’t remember doing anything that would have caused an injury. They forget to mention that they’ve been playing Pickleball 6 times a week for 2 to 3 hours each day! It has been getting worse, and it hurts to play.

The most common category of shoulder pain is called shoulder impingement. Impingement can be primary or secondary. A Primary impingement is when there are anatomical structures in the shoulder causing pinching of tendons, bursae, and narrowing of the subaccromial space. Conditions like osteoarthritis, bone spurs, and certain types of Acromion can cause primary impingement.

A dynamically unstable shoulder causes secondary impingement. This means that a combination of excess motion and decreased strength and stability around the shoulder is present, which in turn can lead to structures being compressed.

A combination of both primary and secondary impingement is not uncommon, especially in people over the age of 60. Symptoms of impingement usually include pain with movement, especially at shoulder height, pain at nighttime and with lying on the affected side, reaching for the seatbelt, and pain with reaching behind your back or hitting overheads.

​It is important to stop performing painful activities when you have these symptoms, and consult a healthcare professional such as a Physical Therapist. Impingement can be corrected through an individualized rehabilitation program, but it will not go away on its own. It is crucial to shut down painful activities and start the healing process in order to prevent aggravation and possible tearing of the rotator cuff down the line. Fixing the mechanics and increasing the stability of the shoulder is the key to avoiding further complications.

If you have any questions, you can contact the Pickleball Doctor at:

Noe Sariban is a doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Pickleball Teaching Professional through the IPTPA, and a 5.0 rated player sponsored by Engage Pickleball. Please visit for more information on injury prevention and rehabilitation tips. Noe started his website to provide pickleball players around the world with a reliable and free source of information. Please like his Facebook page for updates and new information.

Don’t miss the next issue of Pickleball Magazine for a complete article by The Pickleball Doctor!

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