Shoulder Impingement

What is Shoulder Impingement?

Shoulder impingement is a specific and painful condition that occurs when there is pressure on a tendon, nerve, or nearby muscles. It can also occur when these nerves, tendons, or muscles are rubbing against one another.

To look at it another way, shoulder impingement (which can also be known as shoulder impingement syndrome) is the result of excessive rubbing between the rotator cuff, the humerus, and the upper outer edge in the shoulder. This continuous rubbing will lead to swelling, inflammation, irritation, and pain.

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If you think you might be currently suffering from a shoulder impingement, there are specific symptoms you should keep an eye out for. When you are suffering from shoulder impingement or if your rotator cuff is injured or irritated, you’ll find that the joints in your shoulder will swell the same way that your ankle would swell if you sprained it.

Because of the location of these specific joints, nerves, and muscles, other complications occur when they begin to swell. The swelling lessens the amount of space for the individual elements to move, which increases the rate of them rubbing against each other, which then increases the irritation. The increased irritation causes additional swelling, which results in more rubbing and irritation, and the cycle continues.

Additional symptoms of shoulder impingement include (but aren’t limited to) additional pain when:

  • You lift or lower your arm or reach for something.
  • You lie down on the afflicted area.
  • You’re trying to sleep at night.
  • Reaching behind your back or zipping up a zipper.

These symptoms will typically develop for weeks to months.

Causes and Risk Factors

The people who most commonly suffer from shoulder impingements are individuals who do a lot of activities and sports that require a lot of rotational motions overhead (e.g., baseball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, painting, window washing, etc.). Additionally, if you suffer from a traumatic injury or if you fall in such a way that lands you directly on your shoulder, you may also trigger an onset of a shoulder impingement. Another factor is a history of bone spurs. Nearly half of all shoulder injuries end up being a shoulder impingement.

Shoulder impingement can cause other shoulder injuries that are near the afflicted area, such as shoulder bursitis and rotator cuff tears. These injuries can also happen concurrently. If the pain in your shoulder suddenly gets worse without any discernible cause, you might have injured the nerves and joints in your shoulder.

If you think you might be suffering from a shoulder impingement, reaching out to a medical professional to check the injury is recommended.

Modern Techniques for Shoulder Surgery

Many patients worry they'll have a long recovery period after a shoulder procedure. We take a minimally-invasive approach to restore the shoulder's function, shortening recovery time and reducing pain.


Treatments include as much rest as possible, icing, use of over the counter anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, physical therapy, or surgery (if the injury is very severe).


Shoulder impingements are very common and fortunately treatment is available to help patients find pain relief for shoulder pain. Our trusted orthopedic professionals are available for consultation to help you on the road to recovery. Call us today!

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