Because of its' unique complexity and intricacy, hand surgery requires consideration of the entire hand up to the shoulder as an interconnected unit. Whether treating fractures, arthritis, or deformities, a hand surgeon considers the entire hand, wrist, forearm, arm, and shoulder. Our board-certified, fellowship-trained hand specialists treat conditions involving the bones, tendons, and muscles of the hands, wrist, elbow, shoulder, arm and forearm.

Shoulder Impingement

What is shoulder impingement?

Your shoulder is made of the upper arm bone (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula), and collarbone (clavicle). Your arm is kept in the shoulder joint by the rotator cuff, which are muscles and tendons. There is a lubricating sac (bursa) between the rotator cuff and the bone on top of the shoulder. Rotator cuff pain is common in both young athletes and middle-aged people who do repetitive overhead activities with their arm. In Tendinitis, the rotator cuff tendons are irritated or damaged. In Bursitis, the bursa is inflamed and swollen. Impingement happens when the acromion rubs against the bursa when you raise your arm, and the space between the acromion and rotator cuff narrows.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain radiating from the shoulder to the side of the arm
  • Pain with lifting, overhead activities and lying down at night
  • Loss of strength and motion
  • Difficulty doing activities that place the arm behind the back

What medical tests will I need?

  • X-Rays: to rule out any abnormal bone conditions that may be causing your pain.
  • MRI: to see if the tendons or muscles are damaged.

How is it treated?

  • Conservative treatment: avoiding overhead activity with your arm, ice or heat.
  • Anti-inflammatory Medicine: controls swelling. These include naproxen, ibuprofen, and meloxicam.
  • Steroid injections: anti-inflammatories injected into the shoulder joint. This can be repeated every 3 months.
  • Physical Therapy: to strengthen, stretch, and increase your range of motion.
  • Surgery: this can be done arthroscopically or open.

What do I need to know about surgery?

  • You will be contacted within 2 weeks of your pre-op appointment for pricing and scheduling.
  • The surgery will last less than 90 minutes and you will go home the same day.
  • Your surgeon will make 3 small 1cm incisions on the front, back and side of your shoulder. If needed, the incision on the side of your shoulder will be made longer.
  • You will have a sling for 2 weeks that you will wear for comfort.
  • You can begin lifting immediately after surgery unless the rotator cuff tendon needs to be repaired.
  • At your 2 week follow up visit, the sutures and bandage will be removed, and you will begin scar massage.
  • Full recovery is expected by 6-8 weeks after this surgery.

Brochure: Shoulder Impingement