All You Need To Know About Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement is usually a reason for shoulder pain. A rotator cuff connects the upper arm bone and shoulder along with tendons. The acromion, present at the top of the shoulder, is where the rotator cuff is. If there is a shoulder impingement, your rotator cuff will snag or rub on the acromion. The area between the rotator cuff and acromion gets smaller when your arm is raised, which increases pressure. The rising pressure irritates the rotator cuff, which leads to impingement.


Because it is prevalent in swimmers, it is also known as the swimmer’s shoulder. It’s also frequent among other athletes who put a lot of strain on their shoulders, such as baseball or softball players.


What are the symptoms of Shoulder Impingement?


A prevalent sign of shoulder impingement is sharp shoulder pain when you raise your arm overhead or backwards. Additional signs and symptoms include:

  • Slight but continuous arm pain
  • Shoulder ache on the outside and top of your shoulder.
  • Weakness in the shoulder or arm
  • Pain when lying on the affected side.
  • A throbbing pain that worsens at night.


Causes of Shoulder Impingement


Many factors contributing to this impingement include:

  • Overuse is a common contributing factor to shoulder impingement. When you use your shoulder frequently, its tendons may expand and “catch” on your upper shoulder bone.
  • Your bursa is swollen and sensitive. Your bursa facilitates the movement of your muscles and tendons across your bones. Overuse of the shoulder or injury might cause your bursa to become inflamed.
  • You either have acromion bone spurs from ageing, or your acromion is not flat (you were born this way).


When to visit your doctor


Get medical help immediately if breathing problems accompany your shoulder pain and disappear after a few weeks. You will be asked to move your arm in various directions as it helps examine your shoulder to see how readily you can move it and whether it worsens the pain. Your doctor might recommend some treatments you can start, or they might send you to a physiotherapist. The likelihood is that you won’t require any scans at the hospital.


Treatment of Shoulder Impingement


Reduced pain and function restoration are the two main objectives of treatment. Your doctor will consider your age, degree of physical activity, and overall health when designing your course of treatment.


Non – Surgical Treatment


Primary treatment is often noninvasive. Many patients see a progressive improvement and restoration to function with nonsurgical treatment, even if it may take months or weeks to achieve this. Your doctor could advise rest and decrease your activity level, including avoiding activities requiring lifting anything. The nonsurgical treatments are:


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – Ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin are a few medications that relieve pain and swelling.


Physical therapy – A physical therapist’s primary goal is to have your shoulder moving normally again. Exercises that increase the range of motion through stretching are particularly beneficial. In addition, your doctor can start a strengthening exercise for the rotator cuff muscles once your pain is less intense.


Steroid Injection – Anti-inflammatory medication called cortisone is quite effective. An injection of a local anaesthetic and a cortisone preparation may be beneficial if rest, medicines, and physical therapy are ineffective at relieving pain. The bursa under the acromion can be injected with it to reduce pain. Although the injection may be repeated if necessary, getting more than two is often not advised as it might harm your shoulder’s tendon in the long run.


Surgical Treatment


Your doctor may advise surgery if nonsurgical pain management is ineffective. The purpose of surgery is to give the rotator cuff additional room. In addition, the area around it will be widened during the procedure to prevent the rotator cuff tendon from rubbing or catching on to anything close. Generally, the procedure is carried out utilising little surgical instruments inserted through tiny slits in your shoulder. This kind of keyhole surgery is referred to as arthroscopy.



Your arm may be put in a sling shortly after surgery. Hence, healing can start quickly. Your doctor will start to enable arm movement and exercise as soon as you are comfortable enough to do so. A rehabilitation plan will be provided by your doctor, depending on your needs and the results of the operation. These will involve workouts to rebuild arm strength and shoulder range of motion. Complete pain relief normally takes 2 to 4 months, but it might take up to a year.


Living with shoulder impingement


Although shoulder impingement might be uncomfortable and interfere with your everyday activities, most people recover completely in a few months. Healing time for more severe cases might be up to a year. But in two to four weeks, you can generally start doing things normally again. But check in with your doctor frequently to ensure you’re not overdoing it.


For a few days or weeks, refrain from doing things that worsen the pain, such as repetitively raising your arm over your head. But make sure that you do not fully stop using your arm. Continue your regular daily activities to prevent your shoulder from weakening or becoming stiff.