What is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

Shoulder impingement is a common source of shoulder pain where a band of tissue (tendon) inside your shoulder catches or rubs on nearby bone and tissue when you lift your arm. It impacts the rotator cuff tendon, the rubbery tissue connecting the muscles around the shoulder joint to the arm. Shoulder impingement syndrome improves within a few months or weeks when you do the right shoulder exercises. However, if the problem persists for months, you should see a shoulder specialist for treatment.

Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement

The main symptom of this condition is difficulty lifting your arm past the shoulder height. You may also feel the pain of extending the arm behind your back. People suffering from shoulder impingement typically experience throbbing and general stiffness in the shoulder.

Pain from shoulder impingement resembles a toothache rather than what you’d feel from the tearing pain from an injured muscle. You may also feel or see swelling in your shoulder. Usually, the shoulder aches and gets stiff when you’re resting and hurts more when using your arm.

The symptoms may worsen eventually, with pain growing and strength diminishing. You may experience increased pain if you sleep on the affected side. It may also become increasingly difficult to put your arm behind the back or over your head. If you do not seek treatment on time, the tendons may tear or wear down, leading to shoulder weakness, worse pain, and difficulty using or lifting the shoulder. At Plano Orthopedic, we recommend seeing a shoulder specialist if you experience pain we using or exercising your shoulder.

Risk Factors and Causes

A significant number of people with shoulder impingement usually have bones with less space within the joint. Even a slight swelling of the bursa and tendons can cause symptoms. Other factors that may contribute to the risk of getting impingement syndrome include:

  • An injury to the shoulder joint
  • You are more likely to develop this condition if you’re aged 50 or older
  • Sporting activities such as football, baseball, swimming, and tennis make the shoulder and arm move repetitively
  • Bone spurs emanate from bone wear and tear. The rough spot of the bone inflames the nearby tissue causing swelling.

Diagnosing Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

After taking your medical history, your physician will carry out a physical examination to inspect for tenderness and pain. Your doctor will also evaluate your shoulder’s range of motion and your shoulder/arm strength.

The doctor may also order x-rays to rule out arthritis and reveal the rotator cuff injury. An ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can show inflammation in the bursa and tears in the cuff tendons. If your doctor injects an anesthetic under the acromion and you experience pain relief, you have impingement syndrome.

Schedule a Consultation

Plano Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center is a medical facility specializing in assessing and treating orthopedic injuries. We have physicians specializing in orthopedic conditions, including joint replacement, spine, back, neck, wrist, hand, ankle, foot, sports medicine, shoulder, the knee, and physical medicine. Schedule a consultation with a shoulder specialist at Plano Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center in Richardson, Texas today.

Dr. Matthew C. Comley

Shoulder, Knee and Sports Medicine
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Dr. Randal L. Troop

Shoulder, Knee and Sports Medicine
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Dr. Michael S. Howard

Shoulder, Elbow and Upper extremity
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Dr. John E. McGarry

General Orthopedics, Shoulder, Knee and Sports Medicine
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Dr. Earl R. Lund

Shoulder, Elbow, Hand and Wrist
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