Shoulder impingement is a very common cause of shoulder pain. It is most likely to occur in people who are physically active and constantly use their arm in an overhead motion in sports such as tennis, netball, golf and swimming as well as in a working environment where there is repetitive arm movements.
Impingement conditions can vary. Many patients have mild tendon inflammation (tendonitis), bursitis (inflamed bursa), calcific tendonitis (bone forming within the tendon) or a partial or full thickness rotator cuff tendon tears, which can require surgery.
Shoulder impingement is caused by the rotator cuff tendon being trapped and compressed, causing a rubbing or the tissue being caught on the bone when the arm is moved. This causes pain and swelling.
Symptoms of shoulder impingement can be gradual or sudden. Symptoms include pain in the top and or outside of the shoulder, especially when lifting the arm above shoulder height or placing your arm behind your back. It can also cause pain at night when lying on the affected shoulder and a weakness in the affected arm.
Once a diagnosis has been established, treatment will vary depending on the symptoms the patient is experiencing. Initially, rest from physical activities with pain relief and anti-inflammatories will be required. Usually along with a course of physiotherapy.
Cortisone (also known as steroid) injections may be required to relieve the pain, and an exercise programme will need to be followed in order to increase the range of movement and your strength.