What is Impingement?
Shoulder impingement is one of the more common causes of pain in the adult shoulder. It occurs when the space within the shoulder joint narrows, causing compression and swelling of the muscles and tendons. Impingement is described as the acromion (collarbone) “pinching” the shoulder muscles (rotator cuff) as the arm is lifted and raised overhead.
Signs and Symptoms:
Shoulder impingement causes pain, swelling, aching, and stiffness radiating from the front of the shoulder to the side of the arm. Discomfort is pronounced with overhead activity, but may occur at rest. Impingement may also cause weakness, limited range of motion, and difficulty with reaching out from the body.
Conservative treatments include anti-inflammatory medications or steroid injections, as well as stretching exercises and progressive rotator cuff strengthening.
If conservative options are not effective, surgery may be suggested. This surgery, called an “acromioplasty”, involves removing a small portion of the acromion (the front undersurface of the shoulder blade) to create space in the shoulder joint. After surgery, the arm will be in a sling for approximately 10-14 days to allow healing. Progressive motion and strengthening may then be prescribed.