What Is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

February 28th, 2020 Becki Andrus

As you progress through your daily activities, you are reliant upon your shoulder to complete various movements including lifting, reaching, and throwing. This requires flexibility along with a sufficient range of motion in order to accomplish the various actions that you are attempting to do.

These movements can normally be made without any concern if your shoulder is functioning properly. This does place responsibility on your shoulder, which is among the largest joints that are contained in your body. This critical joint contains three different bones. That includes your upper arm bone which is referred to as the humerus. The shoulder also contains your clavicle, which is often referred to as your collarbone, along with your scapula, which is often referred to as your shoulder blade.

The point at which the humerus connects to the scapula forms the ball and socket that is also located in your shoulder. While this joint is usually extremely dependable, the mobility and versatility that we become accustomed to can be impacted by several common conditions that will reduce your ability to make the movements that were discussed previously. 

This includes tendonitis, which is usually the result of inflammation that emerges in one of your tendons. This often develops with a tendon in your rotator cuff or your bicep.

Bursitis is another issue that can occur in your shoulder.  This involves the bursa, which are sacs of fluid that provide a cushion between your bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. If inflammation develops in the bursa, the bones can make unwanted contact.  This creates discomfort and reduces your mobility if this condition develops.

Tendonitis and bursitis can sometimes occur due to an impingement in your shoulder. This is referred to as shoulder impingement syndrome.

Causes Of Shoulder Impingement 

This condition also involves the bones, muscles, tendons, and bursa of your shoulder. The issue of impingement develops when your tendons or bursa begins to make contact with the bones that are contained in your shoulder. This can occur as the result of repetitive movement that involves an overhead motion.

When the arm is raised to shoulder level, there is a reduction in the space that exists between your rotator cuff, and your acromion  – which is the bony area of your shoulder blade. In some cases, repetitive use of your shoulder will cause the tendons to swell.  If this process continues, then the acromion can make contact with the tendon and the bursa. This, in turn, creates discomfort. This is the impingement process, and the type of movement that is involved with this form of repetitive overhead motion can occur during various sports and recreational activities such as swimming, and tennis. There are also occupations in which an overhead motion is required such as construction work, painting, carpentry, and multiple jobs that take place in factories.

Symptoms Of Shoulder Impingement 

If you are contending with a shoulder impingement, you very likely will lose strength in your shoulder muscles. You will also encounter difficulty when you attempt to raise your arm above your head. You will also contend with pain which will increase if the condition continues without any form of treatment.

This discomfort can be constant, and in some cases can become more intense at night. The pain can also progress into the arm.  Some individuals also experience weakness or a loss of mobility in their shoulder or their arm.

When To Visit A Doctor

If you have suffered an injury to your shoulder, and are experiencing extreme pain then you should seek immediate medical attention. This is also the case for selling that quickly develops, or for the inability to lift your arm.

You should also visit your physician if you are dealing with redness, or warmth in your joint, or if there is gradual swelling in the shoulder area.

­What A Doctor Will Do

When you visit a physician, you will be asked a series of questions that will eventually determine the cause of your discomfort. This will include a discussion of your medical history, including the specific symptoms that you are experiencing. Your doctor will also conduct a physical examination in order to observe your strength and mobility. He or she could also order additional testing that could include x-rays, an MRI or an ultrasound that will assist in the eventual diagnosis.


If your physician has determined that you are experiencing a shoulder impingement, he or she might recommend anti-inflammatory medications. This would include aspirin or ibuprofen. The goal for the medication will be a decrease in your discomfort, along with a reduction of the inflammation.

Your doctor might also recommend stretching exercises, while physical therapy could also be included in your treatment plan. It is also possible that your physician will suggest a Cortizone injection as an additional source of anti-inflammatory medication.

At Orthopedic Associates We Are Here To Help 

It is clear that having your shoulder functioning properly is of vital importance. Fortunately, the professionals at Orthopedic Associates are ready to provide you with their expertise whenever you or someone in your family is contending with a shoulder impingement or any type of shoulder pain. Our collection of board-certified doctors supply the vast knowledge that can only result from a combined total of 183 years of experience. This is beneficial in their ability to design effective treatment plans that will guide you back to a pain-free existence.

The specialists at Orthopedic Associates are also dedicated to helping you with a large range of shoulder conditions, including any injuries to the rotator cuff:

  • Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Arthritis
  • Anatomy of the Shoulder
  • Biceps Tendinitis
  • Biceps Tendon Rupture
  • Burners and Stingers
  • Calcific Tendinitis of the Shoulder (Degenerative Calcification)
  • Calcific Tendinitis of the Shoulder (Reactive Calcification)
  • Fracture of the Collarbone (Clavicle)
  • Fracture of the Shoulder Socket (Glenoid Fracture)
  • Fractures of the Greater Tuberosity
  • Fractures of the Shoulder Blade (Scapula)
  • Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)
  • Glenoid Labrum Tears
  • Hill-Sachs Lesion
  • Loose Shoulder (Multidirectional Instability)
  • Muscle Imbalance in the Shoulder
  • Muscle Strain of the Upper Back (Trapezius Strain)
  • Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Proximal Humerus Fracture (Broken Shoulder)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) of the Shoulder
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries/Tears
  • Shoulder Dislocations
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
  • Shoulder Separation
  • SLAP Tear (Superior Labrum from Anterior to Posterior Tear)
  • Snapping Scapula Syndrome
  • Subacromial Bursitis
  • Suprascapular Neuropathy
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Winged Scapula


Our orthopedic experts are highly experienced in performing multiple types of treatments and surgeries for the shoulder including:

  • Absorbable Antibiotic Bead Treatment for Osteomyelitis
  • Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Separation Repair
  • Anesthesia
  • Arthroscopic Bankart Repair
  • Arthroscopic Capsular Plication/Release
  • Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair
  • Biceps Tenodesis
  • Cold Laser Therapy
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
  • Diagnostic Arthroscopy (Shoulder)
  • Distal Clavicle Excision (Resection Arthroscopic Technique)
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Glenohumeral Debridement
  • HemiCap® Resurfacing
  • Intracapsular (Glenoid) Injection
  • Joint Injection (Therapeutic Shoulder)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Mini-Open Rotator Cuff Repair
  • Multimodal Anesthesia and Pain Control
  • Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)
  • ORIF Surgery for Proximal Humerus Fracture
  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injection Ove
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
  • Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement
  • Rotator Cuff Repair (Mini-Open Supraspinatus Tendon-to-Bone Insertion)
  • Shoulder Impingement Surgery
  • Shoulder Resurfacing
  • SLAP Repair
  • Subacromial Injection
  • Suprascapular Nerve Block (Fluoroscopically Guided)
  • Total Shoulder Replacement
  • Ultrasound-Guided Injection for Shoulder Pain

Even if shoulder pain is not your primary concern, we also offer multiple solutions for a wide range of conditions – both with or without surgery. Visit one of Orthopedic Associates two locations or request an appointment today. We are fully committed to paving the path toward a pain-free life for you. 

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