Shoulder Impingement Syndrome: What Is It?

March 29, 2018

If you’re a swimmer, weight lifter or tennis player, you may have experienced a persistent pain in your shoulder that can affect your everyday activities. Shoulder impingement syndrome happens as a result of repeated activities, making small movements like reaching up behind the back or overhead painful. Worried that you may have it? We’ve got everything you need to know from the symptoms to the treatment for this particular type of injury.

How it Occurs

Shoulder impingement syndrome is a common shoulder injury, which takes place in the muscles that are between bones in the shoulder region. The shoulder is unlike any other area of the body, as the muscles and tendons surround the bone, whereas in other areas of the body, the bones are surrounded by muscles.


Those who have shoulder impingement syndrome can experience a weakness in their shoulder muscles, and as previously mentioned, some people have pain when the arms are extended above the head, or when they are reaching behind the back. If the injury has occurred for a long period of time, the muscle can actually tear in two, which would be classified as a rotator cuff tear.


X-rays will likely be needed for this type of injury. X-rays can also help to check for arthritis, as well as for changes in the outline of the bone where the rotator cuff attaches.


Medicines like aspirin or ibuprofen are a common treatment for impingement syndrome. They are taken for around six to eight weeks, which is the time it takes to treat the injury. Stretching daily in a warm shower also helps. If pain persists, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist or consider a cortisone-type injection, which is an anti-inflammatory medication.

This article was adapted from WebMD and Cleveland Clinic. Read the full article here and here.

If you have any questions about shoulder impingement syndrome, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.


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