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What Are the Causes, Symptoms and Treatments for Shoulder Impingement Syndrome? Los Angeles, CA
Shoulder Pain

Shoulder impingement syndrome is caused by repeated and continuous friction between the rotator cuff between the humerus and the top outer edge of the shoulder blade. This friction causes swelling, which narrows the space, causing even more friction, pain and irritation. Treatments range from rest and ice to injections and surgery.

Causes of Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

The rotator cuff tendon passes below the top outer edge of the shoulder blade, called the acromion. Shoulder impingement develops when the rotator cuff tendon rubs against the edge of the shoulder blade. It can be caused by injury and is most common in people involved in sports, painting and window washing. Anyone can develop shoulder impingement from a fall, especially if falling on the shoulder or with the arm outstretched. Shoulder impingement is thought to cause 44-65% of all shoulder pain complaints.

Shoulder impingement can be caused by a torn or swollen tendon from overuse, repetitive movements, injury or age-related wear and tear. The bursa, a fluid-filled sac between the tendon and the shoulder blade, can also become inflamed from overuse or injury. Other causes include a flat acromion (from birth) and age-related bone spurs.

Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Symptoms usually develop over several weeks to months. The most common symptom is pain, followed by shoulder and arm weakness and stiffness. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain while lifting or lowering the arm
  • Pain while reaching out with the arm
  • Pain while lying on the affected side
  • Pain when the arms are extended above the head
  • Pain and tenderness at the front of the shoulder
  • Aching or pain at night, which can affect sleep
  • Pain while reaching behind your back
  • Shoulder and arm weakness and stiffness

Shoulder impingement can also occur in combination with other conditions such as:

  • Bursitis
  • Rotator cuff tendonitis
  • Rotator cuff tear
  • A rupture in the bicep muscle tendon

Treatments for Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Treatments vary depending on the underlying cause of the condition. Usually, physical therapy, ice and anti-inflammatory medications are the first treatments. Cortisone injections may be given into the bursa if the pain is severe. Surgery can be considered when physical therapy and medication don’t relieve the pain. Surgery usually involves removing a part of the acromion to make more space for the rotator cuff. This type of surgery is called arthroscopic shoulder decompression or subacromial decompression. The surgery is arthroscopic surgery, so only a few small incisions are required and recovery time is minimal. Other shoulder-linked problems may also be repaired during this surgery.

If you have shoulder pain or any other symptoms of shoulder impingement, contact Robotic Hip and Knee Replacement LA to find the best treatment options for you. Click here to request an appointment or call us at (310) 792-930.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Farzin Kabaei, MD

8436 West 3rd Street Suite 800
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Phone: (310) 792-9300


Mon - Fri 8AM - 5PM

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