Shoulder impingement occurs when bone spurs rub on the rotator cuff. When the arm is in the overhead position this narrows the space available for the rotator cuff and can cause pain. This may also contribute to rotator cuff tearing over time.
Many patients with impingement can be treated non-operatively with activity modification, exercises and physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and a steroid injection. If these measures are not successful, then patients may be candidates for arthroscopic surgery. During this surgery, the bone spurs can be removed from the acromion and the bursa can be cleaned out. This can be done in a minimally invasive arthroscopic fashion on an outpatient basis.
How do you get shoulder impingement?
People who are most at risk are those who engage in repetitive overhead lifting and activities like baseball, weight lifting and tennis. Pain may also develop as the result of relatively minor trauma or with no apparent reason at all.
Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement
People with impingement commonly complain of pain in the front of the shoulder with reaching and lifting. Overhead activities are particularly difficult. The pain can radiate to the side of the arm. As the condition worsens, you may experience difficulty sleeping. Left alone, severe impingement can result in full thickness rotator cuff tears. This occurs from repetitive injury by the bone spur onto the rotator cuff tendon.
Diagnosis of Shoulder Impingement
Impingement can be diagnosed with a combination of the physical exam and a thorough history. X-rays are helpful in identifying a small bone spur in the front of your shoulder bone (acromion). An MRI can show fluid and inflammation in the bursa and the rotator cuff.
Shoulder Impingement Facts
- Most patients with impingement can be successfully treated without surgery.
- Early diagnosis is key. Wait too long and you can turn a simple case of inflammation into a complete rotator cuff tear.
Treatment for Shoulder Impingement near Seattle, WA
Shoulder impingement treatment includes both surgical and non-surgical options. Subacromial Decompression is the surgical option for shoulder impingement, which aims to reduce the space between the acromion bone spur and the rotator cuff.
To schedule an appointment for shoulder impingement surgery in the Seattle, WA area, contact Dr. Samuel Koo at (425) 823-4000.