Impingement Syndrome

Impingement syndrome is a painful condition that occurs when the tendons in the shoulder are compressed or trapped by the shoulder bones. This condition is also known as swimmer’s shoulder or thrower’s shoulder, as it often affects athletes who engage in repetitive overhead arm movements.

The main symptoms of impingement syndrome include pain in the shoulder, significantly when raising the arm overhead or reaching behind the back, and weakness and stiffness in the shoulder joint. The pain may be mild initially but can become more severe if left untreated.

Causes of Impingement Syndrome

Impingement syndrome is caused by narrowing the space between the rotator cuff tendons and the acromion, which is the bony prominence at the top of the shoulder blade. This narrowing can be due to:

  • Repetitive overhead arm movements, such as swimming, throwing, or painting
  • Bone spurs or other abnormalities in the shoulder joint
  • Poor posture or muscle imbalances that cause the shoulder blade to sit incorrectly
  • Aging, which can cause the tendons to degenerate and become more prone to injury

Treatment for Impingement Syndrome

Treatment for impingement syndrome typically involves a combination of rest, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications. Surgery may sometimes be necessary to remove bone spurs or repair damaged tendons.

Non-surgical Treatment Options

  • Rest and activity modification to avoid aggravating the shoulder
  • Ice or heat therapy to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and swelling
  • Physical therapy exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles and improve range of motion
  • Corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation in the shoulder joint

Surgical Treatment Options

  • Subacromial decompression surgery to remove bone spurs and create more space for the tendons
  • Rotator cuff repair surgery to reattach torn tendons to the bone

Recovery time for impingement syndrome varies depending on the severity of the condition and the type of treatment received. Most people can expect to return to normal activities within a few weeks or months with proper treatment and rehabilitation.

Other Injuries Causing Shoulder Pain
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