Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Understanding Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Shoulder impingement is a common and disabling condition that interferes with the use of the shoulder. It may cause "pinching" of the rotator cuff and bursa and is often worsened by overhead activities. This disorder may lead to rotator cuff disease from mechanical wear. Patients may experience difficulty sleeping on the affected shoulder, night pain, weakness, and shoulder stiffness.

Take Action Early

If you do notice the symptoms, don't wait for them to become unbearable. The sooner you are evaluated by an orthopaedic surgeon, the sooner the treatment can be initiated.


At home or on the job, there are steps that can be taken to prevent the onset or the aggravation of impingement syndrome

Progression of Pain and Stiffness

The pain and stiffness happen anywhere, at home or work. Sometimes it may occur at night time. Sometimes "rolling" on the affected shoulder awakens the patient. Patients may have difficulty with overhead activities such as washing and combing their hair. With progression to stiffness, patients may have difficulty reaching behind their back and have difficulty dressing. Fortunately, appropriate treatment is available.

Early Diagnosis

Early diagnosis of impingement syndrome means relief sooner. It also minimizes the possibility of permanent residual disability

Treatment Options

Treatment early on in the disease process, is in the form of therapy. Therapy usually will focus on strengthening of the muscles around the shoulder as well as the use of various modalities to decrease the pain and discomfort associated with this disease process. Use of anti-inflammatory medications if not contraindicated, is a helpful adjunct in the treatment process. If therapy does not help relieve symptoms, the judicious use of "cortisone injection" in the shoulder may aid in the rehabilitation.

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