What is Shoulder Impingement?
Also known as swimmer’s shoulder, impingement syndrome or shoulder impingement, is one of the more common causes of pain in the shoulder. It occurs when the rotator cuff rubs against the top of the shoulder blade; or clinically, when the acromion (bony process of the shoulder blade, or scapula) catches or rubs against all or part of the rotator cuff. When the arm is lifted, the space between the rotator cuff and the scapula narrows. This can cause pressure on the rotator cuff, pinching the tendons and muscles. The repeated pressure, or pinching can cause inflammation which leads to swelling and pain in the shoulder.
Swimmers and athletes in the Manchester, South Windsor, Rocky Hill, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford communities are at an elevated risk of this injury due to the nature of their activity and chronic overuse. Age can also play a roll in shoulder impingement as well as previous dislocation, bone spurs and other shoulder injuries. Shoulder specialist, James Mazzara, MD helps patients recover from shoulder impingement.
What are the Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement (Swimmer’s Shoulder)?
The most common complaint of shoulder impingement is pain when lifting the arm above the shoulder or rotating it backward. Other symptoms include:
- Dull, minor ache that is constant in the arm or shoulder. Pain can radiate from the shoulder to the side of the arm.
- Pain that worsens at night, leading to sleep loss.
- Weakness in the shoulder and/or arm.
- Grinding in the shoulder
- There may be weakness and stiffness related to the pain.
How is Shoulder Impingement Diagnosed?
Patients who believe they may be experiencing shoulder impingement should seek medical advice promptly to avoid further damage. Patients who are treated early minimize swelling and continued discomfort. Dr. Mazzara can perform an ultrasound in the office to evaluate the condition of the rotator cuff and evaluate for the presence of a tear of the tendons. Shoulder impingement may also require an x-ray or MRI to rule out other possible injuries.
Have you experiencing shoulder impingement symptoms?
There are two ways to initiate a consultation with Dr. Mazzara:
You can provide current X-rays and/or MRIs for a clinical case review with Dr. Mazzara.
You can schedule an office consultation with Dr. Mazzara.
How is Swimmer’s Shoulder Treated?
Treatment for shoulder impingement is typically non-surgical. Dr. Mazzara will offer this treatment first to see if healing can be promoted through conservative measures. Through rest, diminished use of the injured joint-for a determined period-and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) the pain and inflammation from the injury can be minimized. Dr. Mazzara will then prescribe physical therapy to help strengthen the muscles and tendons of the shoulder joint. When patients are experiencing constant pain, Dr. Mazzara can inject a corticosteroid drug into the bursa (sac of fluid within the shoulder joint) which can act as a powerful local anti-inflammatory, can promote healing and often alleviates pain more effectively than NSAIDs.
On occasion, the more conservative methods of treating shoulder impingent does not eliminate shoulder pain and Dr. Mazzara may recommend arthroscopic surgery. Arthroscopic surgery is minimally invasive and is performed by making several small incisions in the shoulder. A small camera is placed and special surgical instruments help to examine the shoulder for tears and/or bone spurs. Bone spurs and any other irregularities are removed, allowing the tendons to avoid being pinched. This type of surgery allows for more rapid healing and a quick return to normal activities.
For more information on shoulder impingement, or to see a shoulder specialist, please contact Dr. James Mazzara’s orthopedic office, Manchester, South Windsor, Rocky Hill, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford Connecticut communities.