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6 Common Signs of Shoulder Impingement

6 Common Signs of Shoulder Impingement

It affects 84% of swimmers and is one of the two most common causes of shoulder pain in tennis players. It also accounts for 44-65% of all shoulder pain complaints in the population at large. What is it? Shoulder impingement

This common injury can impact anyone but is especially common in people who use their shoulders a lot, from elite tennis players and swimmers to house painters and tree trimmers. 

When caught early, shoulder impingement is easily treated, often with rest and icing. By learning the signs of this injury, you can save yourself a lot of pain and, in many cases, the need for surgery or injections. 

Do you think you may have shoulder impingement? If so, see our team at Steven E. Nolan, MD. Dr. Nolan, our board-certified orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of experience, has received numerous top-surgeon awards. 

Here, he discusses shoulder impingement and six common symptoms of the injury. 

What causes shoulder impingement?

Your rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons in your shoulder that help you move and rotate your arm. It fills a narrow area between the upper arm bone, the humorous, and the top shoulder bone, the acromion. 

Impingement occurs when the rotator cuff starts to rub or catch on the acromion due to swelling, irritation, inflamed bursae, or bone spurs. Athletes and those who perform activities with repetitive shoulder movement often experience swelling from overuse

Common symptoms of shoulder impingement

1. Pain when you lift your arms

The most intense pain from shoulder impingement occurs during movement. For many people, this means when they reach behind their backs or above their heads. Tennis and volleyball players often complain about shoulder impingement pain during their follow-through motions. 

2. Minor but consistent pain

Shoulder impingement pain often starts as minor shoulder pain that you can’t seem to shake. It isn’t extremely painful, but it’s nearly constant. 

3. Radiating pain 

Pain that radiates from the shoulder to the front and side of the arm is a hallmark of shoulder impingement.

4. Pain at night

As shoulder impingement worsens, it may cause more intense pain when you lie down for the night, interfering with your ability to fall and stay asleep. 

5. Weakness 

You may feel less strength in your arm and lose some mobility. As with pain at night, this often develops as the impingement progresses. 

6. Pain when lying on the impacted side

If you’re a side sleeper, you won’t be able to put much weight on the shoulder with impingement. 

With all of the above symptoms, most signs of shoulder impingement develop gradually over weeks or even months. 

Dr. Nolan is an expert on shoulder impingement and can diagnose your injury and provide treatment to get your shoulder on the road to recovery. Request an appointment online or over the phone with Steven E. Nolan, MD, today.

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