Shoulder impingement is a condition in which the tendons (connective tissue) or the bursa (fluid-filled sac that cushions bones, muscles, and tendons) become impinged, or pinched.
Repetitive, overhead activities that use the shoulder – such as painting, lifting, swimming, or playing tennis – can cause shoulder impingement over time. If left untreated, shoulder impingement can lead to a rotator cuff tear, damage to the muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint.
Symptoms of shoulder impingement include:
- Difficulty reaching up behind the back
- Pain and difficulty completing overhead tasks
- Weakness in the shoulder muscles
You will need to avoid all physical activity involving the affected arm while it heals.
Your doctor will likely recommend you take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication – such as aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen – for six to eight weeks.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe rehabilitation therapy. Our physical therapists establish a unique plan of care that includes specific interventions for your condition and situation to help alleviate pain and improve mobility.
If anti-inflammatory medications have not helped your symptoms, your specialist may give you a cortisone injection, which is a stronger anti-inflammatory medicine that can cause muscle and tendon weakening if used over time.
Your doctor will conduct a complete physical examination and collect your health history to help make the diagnosis.
Your specialist may order an X-ray to rule out shoulder arthritis, which can cause similar symptoms.
If your symptoms do not respond to treatment, your doctor may order an imaging test – such as an ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – to make sure you don’t have a rotator cuff tear.
In this test, your specialist inserts a long, thin instrument (arthroscope) into your elbow joint to assess the cartilage injury.
Why Choose the University of Miami Sports Medicine Institute?
World-class care in an academic health system. As a research and teaching institution, we treat children and adults with proven, leading-edge procedures based on clinical studies performed at the Miller School of Medicine. Our doctors, residents, nurses, and therapists work together to create healthy outcomes.