What causes shoulder impingement?

Shoulder, Shoulder Pain, Overuse Injury

Your shoulder aches. It hurts to move your arm to the side or lift it out in front of you. Putting your wallet or cell phone in your back pocket is almost impossible because of the pain. That tightness and pain when you move your shoulder.

The tightness and pain may be a sign of shoulder impingement due to bursitis or tendonitis.

Bursitis is actually the inflammation of the bursa, the jelly-like sacs found between your bones, muscles, tendons and skin. Normally, this pod of fluid decreases the friction and irritation between two layers of tissue. However, when the bursa itself is irritated, it can be very painful.

The bursa becomes irritated and inflamed through overuse or direct trauma to the joint. When bursitis occurs in the shoulder, it restricts the movement of the shoulder near the collarbone (acromion).


Tendonitis is also a common cause of shoulder impingement, especially in older populations. As we age, our tendons lose flexibility and stretch or strain with more ease.

Tendonitis can also be caused by repetitive motions needed to perform a job. Common names for tendonitis of the shoulder are swimmer’s shoulder and pitcher’s shoulder.

When tendonitis and bursitis occur in the parts of the shoulder that form the rotator cuff, they often lead to inflammation and shoulder impingement.

If it hurts to raise your arm over your head, you may have an impingement. You should make an appointment with your healthcare provider or an orthopaedic specialist for treatment.

Treated early, you may only need physical therapy and exercise. Left untreated, your bursitis or tendonitis may damage the rotator cuff and need a surgical repair.

Stop your shoulder pain. Call 800.445.6442 to request an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist.

 

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