Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Shoulder impingement is a common cause of shoulder pain. The pain often develops over time and is worse on raising one’s arm up. This is usually caused by pinching of the rotator cuff tendons and their overlying bursa between the bones in one’s shoulder when reaching overhead.

This can sometimes be associated with some damage to the rotator cuff tendons.

Individuals who engage in overhead sports or perform overhead activities regularly as part of their job may be predisposed to having this problem.

Bone spurs as well as poor back and shoulder posture may sometimes increase your risk of shoulder impingement

Shoulder impingement is commonly diagnosed based on your symptoms and clinical examination. Your doctor may sometimes order X-rays or scans to look for underlying issues that may predispose you to getting this problem, as well as to look for other possible causes of shoulder pain such as tendon tears.

Most patients recover rest and avoiding overhead activities as well as carrying heavy loads at arms length. Physiotherapy may help in retraining the rotator cuff, as well as the muscles that control ones shoulder blade, and in doing so reduce the impingement by creating more space for the tendons and bursa.

On occasion, painkillers may be required. In selected cases, steroid injections to the bursa may help relieve the symptoms. Steroid injections do carry some risk and this should be discussed with your doctor before proceeding.

Surgery may sometimes help if the symptoms do not resolve despite adequate rest and physiotherapy.

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