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What is shoulder impingement?

Shoulder impingement is a common pain condition in active individuals, particularly as you get older and your bones become more susceptible to injury. This condition is similar to other shoulder injuries and is often associated with rotator cuff or shoulder bursitis.

Unlike most other body parts, your shoulder is made up of tendons and muscles that are surrounded by bone. That is why you feel bone directly beneath your skin when you touch your shoulder. Under that bone, there are tendons and muscles, including your rotator cuff. When your shoulder tendons and muscles sustain injuries, it leads to swelling, increased pressure, and reduced blood flow.

How do you know if you have shoulder impingement?

You feel pain from shoulder impingement in your shoulder as tissue in the area swells, particularly when you reach your arms behind your head or extend your arms overhead. Persisting shoulder weakness is also a common sign of this condition.

In some cases, you may not even notice that you have torn your rotator cuff completely or have suffered a rupture of a different arm tendon, such as your bicep muscle tendon. The signs and symptoms can be similar. If you experience shoulder weakness or other signs and symptoms, visit Dr. Gombera for a detailed diagnosis.

How do you diagnose shoulder impingement?

First, Dr. Gombera reviews your medical history, discusses your symptoms, and performs a thorough physical examination. Much of this process is to rule out more serious shoulder injuries such as a rotator cuff tear. Depending on your condition, he’ll likely opt for X-rays to rule out health issues like arthritis and to get a clearer view of your shoulder tendons and muscles.

In some cases, Dr. Gombera injects painkillers into the acromion, the bony part of your shoulder blade, and observes how the anesthetic relieves pain in order to make a shoulder impingement diagnosis.

How do you manage and treat shoulder impingement?

Typically, Dr. Gombera manages and treats shoulder impingement with targeted physical therapy. The painful symptoms of shoulder impingement should improve considerably with a stretching and exercise routine and regular icing.

In more severe cases, Dr. Gombera may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain. Dr. Gombera monitors your progress closely and if pain persists, he may opt for an MRI to rule out a rotator cuff tear.

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • Arthroscopy Association of North America
  • American Shoulder And Elbow Surgeons