Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement is a common condition which is also known as rotator cuff tendonitis, bursitis or supraspinatus tendonitis. People with this condition feel pain when lifting their arm, which is caused by the rotator cuff tendon and bursa being compressed against the acromion (bone) whenever the arm is elevated. Rotator cuff muscles and tendons are prone to inflammation, and this can also affect the nearby bursa. When the two rub against the acromion bone, impingement occurs. A rotator cuff tear is also a common cause of shoulder impingement.  

Your rotator cuff tendon passes under the acromion, which is a bony structure located on your shoulder blade. When this tendon moves over the acromion with every arm movement, it can become pinched or caught between the two structures. As a result, you may experience pain and swelling in the affected arm and shoulder. 

Common Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement syndrome 

People with shoulder impingement report the following symptoms: 

  • Shoulder pain during movement 
  • Pain when elevating the arm 
  • Pain when rotating the arm around the shoulder joint 
  • Pain during heavy lifting 
  • Loss of motion and power 
  • Night pain which may occur around the upper/outer areas of the shoulder/upper arm 

Who gets shoulder impingement? 

Impingement affects people of all ages, but it is most commonly seen in those who are required to regularly use their arms above their head. The elderly are also more susceptible to impingement due to the aging process, which causes the rotator cuff tendons to degenerate and become more prone to inflammation. 

When shoulder pains first starts, it can sometimes be difficult to determine if someone is suffering from a frozen shoulder or impingement, as the two can look very similar depending on the stage and severity of the condition. These conditions are in no way similar, so it is very important that a correct diagnosis is made. If you suspect you may be suffering from shoulder impingement, do not hesitate to schedule a consultation as if left untreated your condition may worsen and you may have difficulty moving your shoulder. Sydney Shoulder Clinic have the knowledge and expertise to perform a thorough diagnosis and implement an appropriate treatment plan for your condition. With early intervention, most patients have a full and straightforward recovery. 

How is shoulder impingement syndrome treated and diagnosed? 

In most cases, X-rays of the shoulder will be used to determine the extent of your condition. MRI scans may be required. 

Treatment at Sydney Shoulder Clinic 

Non-surgical treatment is straightforward, and the condition is completely reversible in most cases. Treatment may involve: 

  • Anti-inflammatory medication 
  • medication to relieve pain 
  • Tailored physical therapy exercise program designed to improve motion and strengthen the shoulder blade, collarbone and upper arm bone muscles 
  • Refraining from all aggravating activities 

If inflammation persists, cortisone injections into the subacromial space may be used. 

Symptoms should resolve within 3-6 months. If no sign of improvement after this period, subacromial decompression surgery may be required. Keyhole surgery may be an option. Surgery is only advisable if non-operative treatment fails. 

Book an Appointment at Sydney Shoulder Clinic Today 

Shoulder impingement is a common condition, and Sydney Shoulder Clinic would be happy to guide you towards a full recovery. Please call today on 9744 2201 to schedule a consultation.