Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement occurs when the rotator cuff is pinched between the shoulder blade and the “ball” of the ball and socket shoulder joint when the arm is raised. It can be caused by inflammation of the rotator cuff and bursa, which narrows the space between the two bones. It also can be caused by a tear on the rotator cuff. Shoulder impingement is common in athletes or individuals who use overhead motion regularly as part of sports or their job.

Signs and symptoms of an Shoulder Impingement may include:
  • Pain at top of shoulder, during activity or at rest
  • Sensitive/painful to touch
  • Radiating pain from front of shoulder to side of arm
  • Gradual increase in pain with shoulder activities
  • Swelling and tenderness in area
  • Reduction of strength or movement
  • Pain at night, affecting sleep

The doctor may recommend limiting activities that involve overhead motion and resting the shoulder.


Anti-Inflammatory medications may reduce pain and swelling associated with this injury.


A sling or other advanced support for the shoulder can reduce motion, allowing the shoulder to rest and begin the healing process.


Corticosteroid injections to the affected portion of the shoulder can provide short-term pain relief and reduced inflammation, when medication is ineffective or not an option.

Physical Therapy

Certified Physical Therapists work closely with doctors to create an individualized program to maximize healing and restore function, strength and mobility.


When conservative treatment fails, surgery may be recommended. Surgery is used to eliminate the pinching of the rotator cuff and make more space for movement and pain-free lifting of the arm. Subacromial decompression or anterior acromioplasty are common surgical procedures performed either arthroscopically, using a scope with a camera, or by open treatment.

Subacromial Decompression

Diagnostic Shoulder Arthroscopy