n Shoulder Impingement Syndrome - AOA Orthopedic Specialists

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Causes of Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement is typically caused by excessive use of the shoulder. Occupations such as painting or construction, which require repetitive overhead motions, are common culprits. Athletic activities like swimming also lead to shoulder impingement or swimming shoulder. Shoulder impingement syndrome occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff, along with the subacromial bursa, become compressed against a bony scapula protrusion called the acromion. As these tissues continually rub against bone, they become irritated and inflamed. An impingement may also occur at a point of the brachial plexus causing extreme pain.

Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement

Symptoms of shoulder impingement often start with a reduced range of motion in the upper back parts of your reach.  Shoulder impingement can make it difficult to reach or lift upward when you hand is behind your head, pain while lifting anything over your head, as well as a weakening of the shoulder muscles.

symptoms of shoulder impingement include:


  • Tenderness
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Weakness in the shoulder
  • Minor pain that does not dissipate while resting
  • Sudden, sharp pain when using the arms
  • Frozen shoulder

Shoulder Pain

Treatment of Shoulder impingement syndrome

Treating shoulder impingement should be looked into if symptoms are present.  If Shoulder impingement is not properly treated other issues such as arthritis and bursitis can set into the shoulder joint.  Shoulder impingement is treated from multiple directions.  First and foremost to resolve should impingement the inflammation needs to be reduced.  The reduction of inflammation is achieved by stopping the activities that irritated the shoulder in the first place, over the counter NSAIDS can be taken for 6-8 weeks, under the supervision of a physician since long term use can cause internal bleeding, and your physician can administer steroid injections.  Daily stretching should be done with wet heat, such as in the shower, by making a “thumbs up” behind your back and reaching as high as your can get between your shoulder blades.  It may be necessary to try physical therapy.   If non surgical options do not relieve the symptoms, shoulder impingement surgery may be needed to create space in the shoulder.

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