Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
Rotator cuff injuries are some of the leading causes of shoulder pain. Shoulder impingement syndrome is a condition in which the tendons, or other areas of the rotator cuff, become worn down or damaged.
What causes a shoulder impingement?
Impingement occurs when the acromion, a bony segment of the scapula, places pressure on tendons or a lubricating sac in the shoulder called a bursa. As these areas nudge against each other, the bursa or tendons wear down, causing irritation. Certain arm actions, often in repetition, may lead to acromion pressure.
Who Is at Risk?
Sports or professions that require constant overhead movements may be prone shoulder impingement syndrome. Baseball pitchers, construction workers, painters, and competitive swimmers are examples of people that are at risk for developing this condition.
What are the symptoms of shoulder impingement syndrome?
Symptoms of shoulder impingement syndrome may include:
- General pain in shoulder
- Trouble lifting objects
- Trouble reaching behind you
- Pain or discomfort when lifting arms above the head
- Pain or discomfort while laying down
- Pain or discomfort extending arms
How is shoulder impingement syndrome diagnosed?
This condition is diagnosed by speaking with a physician about your medical history and performing a physical examination. Your doctor may choose to use imaging tests, such as x-rays and MRIs, to confirm the extent or your injury.
How Do You Treat It?
Impingement syndrome may be treated non-surgically. Rest, physical therapy, and medication are all non-surgical options your doctor may recommend that you pursue.
- Rest: Avoid using the injured shoulder as much as possible.
- Physical Therapy: A physical therapist will create a program for you based on factors such as age, condition, and activity level.
- Medication: Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications that may help your shoulder condition over the span of a few months. Always speak to your doctor before taking any medications.
While the use of non-surgical methods to heal shoulder impingement syndrome is recommended as a first step, only an orthopedic specialist will be able to determine the extent and treatment of your injury. If you have tried the methods above and are not progressing in your healing, your orthopedic specialist will most likely recommend surgery.