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Impingement Syndrome

Impingement syndrome is another common condition of the shoulder. Between the rotator cuff and the acromion (a part of the scapula), is a bursa. When someone has shoulder bursitis, they are referring to this structure.

When we lift our arm up, the humerus and the acromion come close to each other. The rotator cuff and the bursa are stuck between the two. When someone has a bone spur, this bone spur also pushes on the bursa and rotator cuff, adding to the trouble. Over time, the spur can wear a hole in the rotator cuff.

Impingement Syndrome

The biceps tendon can also be caught during this impingement. This can cause biceps tendinitis or tearing. The biceps tendon will frequently cause pain in the front of the shoulder. The pain often radiates down the front of the arm.

Patients with impingement syndrome of the shoulder typically respond well to physical therapy. Cortisone injections, oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, and topical pain relievers are frequently helpful. Most patients do not require surgery. However, if there is continued pain or difficulty with activities, surgery is sometimes needed. In addition, if there is also a rotator cuff or biceps tendon tear, surgery is more likely.

The surgery is arthroscopic. Any inflamed or damaged tissue is removed. The bone spur is also removed. If the rotator cuff or biceps tendon are involved, they will be addressed. Please see the corresponding sections on the rotator cuff and biceps tendon.