Shoulder Impingement Syndrome


 

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. 

 

HOW TO FIX SHOULDER IMPINGEMENT

Our doctors specialize in multiple treatments for shoulder impingement. In most cases, the simplest course of action is to reduce or modify all activities that cause pain. Physical therapy can also reduce inflammation and strengthen the affected shoulder. Anti-inflammatory medications can provide some relief, as well, as can cortisone and platelet-rich-plasma injections.

While shoulder impingement can be painful, the good news is that its treatment is more than manageable. With some combination of anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy, most patients can quickly recover from the condition and resume normal physical activities. An injection of cortisone or platelet-rich-plasma may also benefit some patients. In a handful of cases, however, a minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery may be required to relieve the impingment and prevent further damage to the rotator cuff tendons.

If these more conservative treatments don’t resolve the symptoms, minimally invasive arthroscopic surgey may be necessary to treat your shoulder impingement and prevent future damage to your rotator cuff tendons. We particularly recommend this course of action if bone spurs are present, since the repeated scraping of the spurs against the rotator cuff can cause a tear in the cuff. Regardless, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic specialist to discuss your treatment options and decide which would work best for you.

 

HOW WE PERFORM SHOULDER IMPINGEMENT SURGERY

At New York Bone and Joint, our philosophy is to provide all possible information and be sure you feel secure every step of the way. If minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery is necessary, our experienced shoulder specialists, Leon E. Popovitz, MD or Rupesh Tarwala, MD will discuss all the details and options with you.

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure performed with a few small pin-hole incisions. Your surgeon will insert a narrow telescope to view the affected tissue, and then will use small instruments to operate on the shoulder, removing the inflamed bursa surrounding the rotator cuff’s tendons as well as the bone spur or other protrusion responsible for the impingement. If the rotator cuff is torn, it will be repaired at the same time. If the AC joint in the shoulder is arthritic, a small portion of it may be removed as well. Your surgeon will then reshape the subacromial space to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence. After the surgery, there should be plenty of space for the rotator cuff to move freely.

Our doctors will strive to provide you with an absolute sense of security, providing all the necessary facts surrounding the procedure and working with you to determine a course of treatment that will ultimately improve your health and life.

 

SHOULDER IMPINGEMENT RECOVERY TIME

How long does shoulder impingement take to heal? If your shoulder responds well to physical therapy, you may feel much better within a few weeks of treatment. If it doesn’t, however, there’s no cause for alarm: the average recovery time for shoulder impingement surgery is six to eight weeks. As an arthroscopic procedure, shoulder impingement surgery is designed to minimize damage to surrounding tissues and muscles, ensuring a quicker and less painful recovery. All patients can return home immediately after the operation, and will need to wear a sling for only one or two days before beginning physical therapy. The pain should largely subside within two weeks, and complete recovery should follow after six to eight weeks of physical therapy.

 

SHOULDER IMPINGEMENT EXERCISES AND STRETCHES

Shoulder impingement exercises should stretch the shoulder and strengthen the rotator cuff. Stretching your shoulders will help you restore your full range of motion, while strengthening your rotator cuff may prevent it from scraping against the bone above.

 

EXPERIENCING PAIN? DO YOU HAVE AN INJURY?

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