Shoulder impingement syndrome is a common cause of shoulder pain. Impingement occurs when the bones in the shoulder cause excessive squeezing or rubbing of shoulder tendons or the bursa, the lubricating sac that covers the rotator cuff. This can cause inflammation and, if not treated appropriately, may lead to a torn rotator cuff.
Patients seeking treatment for shoulder impingement syndrome can find world-class care from the shoulder team at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH). Recognized as a premier provider of medical and surgical orthopaedic treatment, our staff of experienced specialists offers access to the latest techniques and procedures to repair shoulders, relieve pain, improve mobility and increase quality of life.
Symptoms of shoulder impingement
Symptoms of impingement syndrome include:
Weakness of the shoulder muscles
Pain with overhead use of the arm
Difficulty of reaching up behind back
Treatment for impingement syndrome
Anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin, naproxen or ibuprofen are the most common treatment for impingement syndrome. It may take six to eight weeks for the medicine to alleviate the problem. Daily stretching in a warm shower and avoiding repetitive overhead activity for a period of time may also help improve the condition. The vast majority of patients with impingement syndrome are successfully treated through these techniques.
Impingement may also be treated with physical therapy, using exercise to strengthen muscle, increase stability, improve range of motion, and stretch out the tissues surrounding the shoulder joint.
If impingement symptoms persist, physicians may recommend an injection of cortisone, a powerful anti-inflammatory, or perform an ultrasound or MRI to determine whether the rotator cuff has been torn, which may require rotator cuff surgery to repair it.
Impingement treatment at BWH
The BWH shoulder team offers a staff of experienced specialists who collaborate with the Harvard Shoulder Service, the Advanced Center for Cartilage Repair, Cartilage Repair Center, Shoulder & Sports Injuries (ACCSS) and Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service to provide our patients with comprehensive, innovative and expert shoulder care.
In addition to treatment for impingement, our services include:
Joint replacement revision
Rotator cuff and labrum repair
Shoulder fracture reduction/fixation
Nerve injuries involving the shoulder
Find a physician for shoulder impingement treatment