Shoulder Impingement

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Shoulder impingement occurs when one or more rotator cuff tendons get trapped and pinched between shoulder bones during arm movement, causing extreme pain and swelling/inflammation of the rotator cuff. It is more likely to occur in young and middle aged people who engage in physical activities that require repeated overhead arm movements.

Swimmers, softball players, basketball players, tennis players, and golfers are all high risk for impingement. In fact, shoulder impingement is so common in swimmers that it has the nickname "swimmer's shoulder."

Shoulder impingementThe pain may be due to a "bursitis" or inflammation of the bursa overlying the rotator cuff or a "tendonitis" of the cuff itself. In some circumstances, a partial tear of the rotator cuff may cause impingement pain.

Impingement syndrome may worsen if you have or develop bone spurs in the shoulder, which can reduce the space under the shoulder blade. This reduction in space results in more contact, friction, and shoulder impingement, which can begin to cause pain or worsen existing symptoms.

Unless a tendon has been completely torn from the shoulder, most people with swimmer's shoulders respond well to noninvasive treatments. These might include:

  • physical therapy
  • ice packs
  • wearing a sling
  • taking over-the-counter pain medicine
  • supporting the shoulder while you work or sleep
  • modifying your activity while the shoulder heals

If you have shoulder pain, it's important to schedule a visit with one of COG shoulder specialists as soon as possible. Delaying medical treatment gives your injury a chance to get worse, which means your treatment might wind up being more complicated. At your office visit, COG shoulder specialists will perform range-of-motion tests with your shoulder. These tests help pinpoint the location of the pain.

​​What's Next? Treatment Options...

To find out more about treatment options and specialized care, please call Columbia Orthopaedic Group at (573) 876-8141 and schedule an appointment or request one below:

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Columbia Orthopaedic Group
1 South Keene Street
Columbia, Missouri 65201

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