What is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome:

Have you recently noticed that you are having difficulties reaching behind your back like when you are trying to scratch an itch? Do you feel pain and weakness in your shoulder muscles? If so, you may be feeling the symptoms of having shoulder impingement syndrome. Today, we will discuss what happens when you have shoulder impingement syndrome and the treatment options available.

What Is It?

As the name implies, shoulder impingement syndrome is a condition where there is an impingement or “pinching” of the rotator cuff. In further detail, this condition occurs when the tendons or bursa in the shoulder become compressed against the acromion (the bony scapula protrusion) and is a result of the continuous and repetitive use of the overhead motion of the shoulder (and as the tissues continuously rub against the bone). This leads to its irritation and inflammation. This condition is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain. Activities involving baseball, swimming, tennis, and other overhead sports may pose as a contributing risk in getting the condition. The condition is also called swimmer’s shoulder, as it is common in frequent swimmers. In addition, occupations that involve heavy lifting or frequent arm movements such as construction work, painting, and moving boxes can lead to getting this condition. Other risk factors also include ligament injuries in the shoulder, bone abnormalities, and joint abnormalities.


As briefly mentioned, symptoms for this condition include muscle weakness and constant pain in the shoulder or arm. Pain may be felt from the front of the shoulder to the side of the arm. Also, swelling, tenderness, a reduced range in motion, and the inability to elevate your arm are known symptoms as well.


If you are feeling or showing symptoms of this condition, your healthcare professional will begin by analyzing your medical history while conducting a physical exam. X-rays may be taken to rule out other conditions such as arthritis and to check for bone abnormalities.


The most common form of treatment is rest and medication. Your healthcare professional may recommend taking oral anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen with a frequency schedule for a specific duration of time. During this time, they may also recommend daily stretching in a warm shower to alleviate pain.

If problems persist, your healthcare professional may suggest an injection and additional tests before progressing to other treatment options such as physical therapy or surgery. If surgery is recommended, there is a minimally invasive surgery called arthroscopic surgery to widen the space around your rotator cuff. However, in severe cases, conventional open surgery may be needed such as those who have torn their rotator cuff.

These are just a few details to describe shoulder impingement syndrome and its treatment options available. Again, it is best to consult with your healthcare professional to properly diagnose shoulder impingement syndrome. It is also advisable to immediately seek professional advice especially if the pain is constant and becomes more severe.

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POSMC is a full-service medical facility specializing in the evaluation and treatment of orthopedic injuries. The practice is led by a group of 12 board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician. Contact us today!