What is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

Shoulder impingement syndrome, often referred to as shoulder bursitis, tendonitis impingement, swimmer's shoulder, tennis shoulder, or thrower's shoulder, is a condition caused by irritation or inflammation of the tendons attached to the rotator cuff muscles. It occurs when the tendons or bursa in the shoulder are caught between the tip of the acromion bone and the humerus bone, usually as a result of bone spurs.

What causes shoulder impingement? What causes bone spurs in the shoulder?

Should impingement is almost always the product of bone spurs, which increase the likelihood of impingement by narrowing the subacromial space (the area under the acromion bone). Bone spurs themselves develop following repeated rubbing or pressure, particularly in patients with more prominent acromion bones. As a result, any activity that causes pinching or excessive scraping of the rotator cuff tendons increases the likelihood of shoulder impingement. Some of these activities include swimming, tennis, baseball, or any other sport involving frequent overhand motions. Any job that requires lifting and working overhead may also lead to shoulder impingement.

Common Shoulder Impingement Symptoms

Where does a shoulder impingement hurt?

If you're experiencing heavy pain in your arm or shoulder when lifting or moving your arm, a similar pain when resting or exercising, difficulty sleeping, or a general sense of weakness in your shoulder, you may have shoulder impingement. The pain may develop very gradually, and does not necessarily result from a recent injury.

Shoulder Impingement Tests & Diagnosis

Shoulder impingement is usually diagnosed with a physical exam, X-rays, and an MRI. After an initial history and physical examination, your orthopedic specialist will take X-rays to identify bone spurs or other skeletal irregularities. If you're feeling weakness in your shoulder, your orthopedic surgeon may also order an MRI to determine the extent of the damage to the rotator cuff tendons.

If you are in pain from shoulder impingement syndrome there are many treatment options available that can get you back on track in no time. Find out more here or book an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists here.


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