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Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder Anatomy

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. The ball-shaped end of the upper arm bone (humerus) fits neatly into a socket, called the glenoid, which is part of the shoulder blade or scapula. 

What is Shoulder Impingement?

Shoulder impingement is inflammation of the tendons of the shoulder joint. It is one of the most common causes of pain in the shoulder. Shoulder impingement is also called swimmers shoulder, tennis shoulder or rotator cuff tendinitis. 

Causes of Shoulder Impingement

Impingement occurs in both young and middle-aged patients who engage in physical activities that require repeated overhead arm movements. The pain may be due to bursitis (inflammation of the bursa) overlying the rotator cuff or tendonitis of the cuff itself. In some circumstances, a partial tear of the rotator cuff may cause impingement pain.

Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement

Individuals with shoulder impingement may experience severe pain at rest and during activities, weakness of the arm and difficulty in raising the hand overhead.

Diagnosis of Shoulder Impingement

Diagnosis involves a physical examination by your doctor, where your doctor checks for the possible range of movements with the affected shoulder. X-rays and MRI scans may be ordered to further assess the bone and soft tissue structures. 

Treatment Options for Shoulder Impingement

Conservative Treatment Options for Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement can be treated with rest, ice packs, anti-inflammatory drugs and temporarily avoiding activities involving the shoulder. Steroid injections may also be administered to help alleviate the pain an inflammation. Physical therapy will be advised to strengthen the muscles and improve range of motion. 

Surgery for Shoulder Impingement

Arthroscopic surgery may recommended if the rotator cuff tendons are torn and to remove the bony spurs.

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