diagram of shoulder impingement syndrome

A Simple Overview of Shoulder Impingement

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diagram of shoulder impingement syndromeShoulder impingement—also known as impingement syndrome or swimmer’s shoulder—is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain. Shoulder impingement can seriously restrict your movements, causing symptoms including weakness and pain when reaching for things or lifting.


In this blog, NYC shoulder impingement specialist, Dr. Francis Mendoza, will provide a simple overview of shoulder impingement, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.


What causes shoulder impingement?

While the other joints of the body consist of bones surrounded by muscles and tendons, the shoulder is unique in that it also has muscles and tendons surrounded by a bony framework. The muscles of the rotator cuff are sandwiched between the head of the upper arm bone (the humerus) and a bony projection on the shoulder blade called the acromion.


Impingement occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff rub against these bones. This is often the result of repetitive motions, injury—which causes swelling, making the problem even worse—or aging.


What are the symptoms of impingement syndrome?

Shoulder impingement syndrome may cause symptoms including:

  • Pain when reaching over your head
  • Pain when reaching behind you
  • Muscle weakness in your shoulder
  • Shoulder pain that radiates from the front of your shoulder to the side of your arm
  • Swelling or tenderness toward the front of your shoulder


If you have untreated shoulder impingement for a long period of time, it can result in a rotator cuff tear or even a rupture of your biceps muscle.


Shoulder impingement is a progressive condition; the longer you leave it untreated, the worse it becomes. You may find your range of motion more limited as time progresses, and eventually you may find it so restricted that your shoulder becomes “frozen.”


What does treatment for shoulder impingement involve?

Proper treatment for shoulder impingement is very important. Continuing to put strain on an injured shoulder can actually lead to a worsening condition such as fraying tendon tissues or even a rotator cuff tear. The longer you wait for treatment, the less likely it is that conservative measures will be successful, so early diagnosis and treatment are essential.


Conservative treatments for shoulder impingement are always the first options explored, and they can often improve symptoms without the need for surgery. Nonsurgical treatments may include:

  • Resting your shoulder
  • Avoiding activities that aggravate the symptoms
  • Icing your shoulder
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling
  • Doing physical therapy
  • Getting cortisone injections to reduce swelling and inflammation


When necessary, surgery may also be an option in order to relieve more severe symptoms for long-term relief. This is more likely if the condition has resulted in a torn rotator cuff.


Where can I find shoulder impingement treatment in NYC?

Dr. Mendoza is a fellowship-trained Manhattan shoulder specialist who is dedicated to treating shoulder impingement with personalized treatment plans for each patient.


If you’re suffering from the symptoms of shoulder impingement, schedule an appointment with Dr. Mendoza today to have your condition evaluated.

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