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Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement is very common and is most often triggered by repetitive overhead activities, especially in athletes. This painful condition is also known as rotator cuff tendinitis.

What causes Shoulder Impingement?

Young athletes who use their arms in overhead motions in sports like swimming, baseball, and tennis are particularly susceptible to shoulder impingement, as well as construction workers and painters whose livelihoods depend on the repetition of overhead movements. Sometimes symptoms develop with no apparent cause.

How do you know you have Shoulder Impingement?

The typical signs of shoulder impingement are:

  • Pain and stiffness when lifting the arm
  • Swelling and tenderness in the front of the shoulder
  • Pain when the arm is lowered from an elevated position
  • Minor pain, both with activity and at rest
  • Pain from the front of the shoulder to the side of the arm
  • Sudden pain with lifting or reaching movements
  • Pain at night
  • Range of motion limitations

How does OSI fix Shoulder Impingement?

An OSI shoulder specialist will discuss your activities to determine if what you do may be cause for shoulder impingement. You will then be checked for signs and symptoms of shoulder impingement by one or more of the following:

  • Physical exam: Your OSI physician will talk to you about your medical history and the symptoms you have been experiencing. The doctor will then carefully examine your shoulder, testing for range of motion and arm strength. Your doctor may also check the neck for a pinched nerve, which can present similar symptoms.
  • X-rays: X-rays may show the development of a bone spur.
  • MRI: An MRI can reveal fluid or inflammation in the rotator cuff.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Most often the initial treatments for shoulder impingement are nonsurgical:

  • Rest
  • Activity modification
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Steroid injections
  • Physical therapy is available right at OSI

Surgical Treatment

A surgical approach can be considered if shoulder pain persists despite the use of conservative techniques. Surgery to repair shoulder impingement can be minimally-invasive arthroscopy or an open surgery, which provides your OSI shoulder surgeon more direct access to the rotator cuff. Your shoulder specialist will discuss your options and help you decide which approach would be best for your particular shoulder impingement situation.