Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Shoulder impingement syndrome is a painful condition where the tendons of the rotator cuff become compressed against the top outer edge of the shoulder blade.

What You Need To Know About Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

What is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

The rotator cuff in the shoulder consists of four muscles and bones with one connecting tendon. These muscles connect the top of the arm bone (humerus) with the top of the shoulder blade (acromion). When functioning properly, this anatomy allows for free and easy movement in the shoulder.

Shoulder impingement (also called rotator cuff impingement syndrome or subacromial impingement) occurs when the rotator cuff tendons get pinched when moving between the top of the upper arm and the acromion. When these tissues don't slide freely within the shoulder, the tendons and bursa (a fluid-filled sack that protects the rotator cuff tendons) become inflamed and painful.

Shoulder impingement symptoms can be painful and debilitating. Get moving again by scheduling an appointment with a Resurgens Orthopaedics shoulder physician.

What Causes Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

Shoulder impingement syndrome is usually caused by overuse of the shoulder joint. If you do a lot of overhead motions with your arms, you may be at increased risk of developing a shoulder impingement. This is a common condition among swimmers, baseball players, tennis players, painters, or construction workers.

You may be more at risk for shoulder impingement syndrome if you've had a direct injury to the shoulder or if your shoulder is prone to repetitive motion. It may also develop as a result of bone spurs, age-related wear and tear, or shoulder osteoarthritis.

Shoulder Impingement Symptoms

Shoulder impingement symptoms usually begin with sudden pain when you reach your arm above your head. This pain may radiate from the front of the shoulder and down the top of your arm. Some other typical symptoms of shoulder impingement syndrome are:

  • Pain when extending, lifting, or reaching with the arm
  • Tenderness
  • Aching pain while at rest
  • Weakness in the joint
  • Stiffness
  • Limited range of motion
  • Catching when the joint is in motion

How is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome Diagnosed?

To diagnose shoulder impingement syndrome, your Resurgens Orthopaedics physician will first talk with you about your medical history, lifestyle, and how the condition started. Then, they will perform a physical exam to assess your pain levels and range of motion. This exam is short and will only cause some brief discomfort.

After your physical exam, your doctor will likely order diagnostic imaging such as x-rays or MRI scans. This will rule out any other potential shoulder conditions and help them determine a potential treatment plan for you. Then, your doctor will talk with you about your shoulder impingement treatment options.

Shoulder Impingement Treatment

There are many non-surgical and surgical options available for shoulder impingement treatment. Mild to moderate cases can often be treated with non-surgical methods, while more severe conditions may require surgical intervention.

Non-Surgical Treatment

There are many non-surgical options for shoulder impingement treatment, such as:

  • Physical therapy and light stretching
  • Rest
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories to help manage pain
  • RICE therapy
  • Corticosteroid injections to manage more severe pain

Surgical Treatment

Your Resurgens physician will only recommend surgery if your shoulder is not responding to non-surgical shoulder impingement treatments. The most common procedure for shoulder impingement is called subacromial decompression, which is a minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery.

During the surgery, a surgeon removes a part of the acromion to make more space for the rotator cuff to function. If your condition is being affected by other problems, your doctor may also fix a rotator cuff tear or inflamed bicep tendon during the procedure.

Every patient is unique, so we customize a treatment plan for your specific needs. If you are experiencing debilitating pain in your shoulder, make an appointment with a Resurgens shoulder physician today.

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