Shoulder impingement is a condition in which your shoulder’s bursa and/or rotator cuff tendons are internally trapped and compressed when your shoulder is elevated or moved up and down. This causes your bursa to become repeatedly pinched and inflamed, resulting in shoulder bursitis.
While a traumatic injury can cause shoulder impingement, it is the repeated movement of your arm while in the impingement zone that most frequently causes the bursa to contact the outer edge of the shoulder blade. This zone is located between the head of your humerus (the shoulder’s ball-shaped bone) and the top of your shoulder blade (acromion). During normal shoulder function, there shouldn’t be an impact between the shoulder blade and the bursa or rotator cuff. However, when shoulder muscles are weak or uncoordinated, your movement patterns can become abnormal and impingement can occur.
The first sign of shoulder impingement is often a simple shoulder click, which progresses to a painful click, reduced movement and ultimately the loss of shoulder function. Additional symptoms include:
- Pain when lying on the sore shoulder
- Muscle pain or weakness when attempting to reach or lift
- An arc of shoulder pain when you arm is at shoulder height or overhead
- Pain when reaching across your chest (as you would with a seatbelt)
- Pain or clicking when putting your hand behind your back or head
OKC Orthopedics, Sports & Pain Medicine is committed to helping patients with impingement return to the highest level of activity possible. Our team of orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists and athletic trainers work together to tailor a treatment plan to each patient’s needs and goals.
Shoulder impingement injuries and treatment options vary considerably. A thorough examination and understanding of why the impingement has occurred is the first step to both a short-term resolution and the prevention of recurrent shoulder impingements.