Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder Impingement as a Cause of Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is a common complaint in Dr. Matthew Provencher’s orthopedic office, shoulder specialist serving the communities of Vail, Aspen and Denver, Colorado. Shoulder impingement is an extremely common cause of joint pain and may occur with no apparent cause. Shoulder impingement refers to pinching, or impingement, of the rotator cuff tendons. Ongoing tendon impingement causes patients to experience swelling, inflammation, and pain within the shoulder joint.

Since the shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body, it is prone to a variety of injuries, such as shoulder impingement. The condition is caused when a rotator cuff tendon becomes damaged as it glides against the ligaments and bones within the shoulder. Athletes, especially swimmers, are at an elevated risk of this shoulder condition. Certain athletes may even develop bone spurs under the acromion, the flat bone located at the top of the shoulder blade, leading to severe impingement, and chronic shoulder pain.

Age is believed to contribute to shoulder impingement in some patients since bone spurs naturally develop as the body ages.

Shoulder Impingement Symptoms

The most common symptom associated with this condition is shoulder pain. The pain may be present while performing everyday activities, such as getting dressed or sleeping, and is typically located over the front of the shoulder, and on the outside of the upper arm. Certain patients may also experience shoulder weakness and a grinding sensation.

Shoulder Impingement Diagnosis

Patients are encouraged to report shoulder pain over the front of the shoulder and outside of the upper arm as quickly as possible. Inflammation associated with shoulder impingement intensifies rapidly and can mask true injury symptoms if left untreated. Dr. Provencher will perform a thorough physical examination and perform diagnostic tests to diagnose the shoulder condition and rule out other injuries.

Shoulder Impingement Treatment

Non-surgical treatment is typically the initial plan prescribed by Dr. Provencher. The goal of treatment is to reduce shoulder pain while restoring joint function.

Non-Surgical

A non-surgical treatment plan restores function and relieves shoulder pain in many patients. Dr. Provencher will address inflammation and pain with lessened activity, physical therapy, and medications. It is strongly suggested that patients work with the in-house physical therapists at Howard Head Sports Medicine to optimize their rehabilitation. He may also recommend an injection of corticosteroid into the subacromial bursa if the pain is severe or continues with the use of anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS).

Surgical

Arthroscopic shoulder surgery may be recommended by Dr. Provencher if the pain continues after a non-surgical treatment plan. During the shoulder impingement surgical procedure, Dr. Provencher will create small incisions in the injured area so he can insert a tiny camera and surgical instruments. He will then examine the rotator cuff in great detail for any potential tearing. If bone spurs are present, Dr. Provencher will remove them, along with any areas of inflammation. The smoothed down area will allow a pain-free range of motion for the patient.

For more resources on shoulder impingement, or to determine if the condition is causing your shoulder pain, please contact the Vail, Aspen and Denver, Colorado orthopedic office of shoulder specialist Dr. Matthew Provencher.

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