Shoulder impingement is a disorder of the rotator cuff; a band of muscle and tendon around the top of your arm.
Impingement happens when the tendon in your rotator cuff rubs or catches on nearby tissue and the bone on the top of your shoulder (the acromion). It's a common cause of shoulder pain, and it gets worse when you lift your arm or shoulder.
It can also be described as:
It’s common in young athletes as well as middle-aged people who use their arms overhead or are involved in repetitive lifting, and suffer a rotator cuff injury.
Shoulder impingement can happen without warning or begin gradually.
If you have shoulder impingement you may feel:
However, if your shoulder is stiff you're more likely to have a different condition known as frozen shoulder.
Make an appointment to see your doctor or a physiotherapist if your shoulder pain lasts more than a few weeks or is affecting your everyday life.
Your doctor may ask you lots of questions about the nature of your pain (for example when it started, whether you’ve injured yourself, the impact the pain is having on your everyday activities, where the pain is etc) and carry out a thorough physical examination.
They may also ask you to carry out certain movements with your arms, hands and shoulders. In some cases, they may suggest further tests including:
Causes of shoulder impingement include:
Treatments for shoulder impingement will vary depending on how serious it is.
In most cases, the recovery time from surgery is between three to six months but your consultant will be able to give you more specific guidance about getting back to normal.