Skip to main content

Shoulder Impingement Specialist

Orthopedic Specialists -  - Orthopedic Surgeon

Orthopedic Specialists

Orthopedic Surgeons located in Palm Harbor, FL

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome Q and A

 service image

Shoulder impingement syndrome is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain. It is caused by a shoulder bone known as the acromion rubbing against, or "impinging" on, rotator cuff tendons or bursa (a surrounding fluid sac). The pain usually occurs during overhead arm movements when the acromion and tendons are squeezed together. 

What causes shoulder impingement syndrome?

A key risk factor for shoulder impingement is repeated overhead movement over time. People who engage in tennis, baseball, swimming, and tennis, for example, are vulnerable, as are those who do construction work, painting, lifting, and wallpaper hanging.  Also at risk are people with bone and joint abnormalities.

What are common shoulder impingement syndrome symptoms?

The primary symptoms, pain and shoulder weakness, tend to be persistent. The discomfort can affect not only deliberate overhead activities, but everyday tasks such as lifting the arms to put on clothing. 

If shoulder impingement is not treated early, it can lead to other conditions:

  • Inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons (shoulder tendinitis) 
  • Thinning or tearing of the rotator cuff tendons
  • Inflammation of the bursa (bursitis) 

How is shoulder impingement syndrome diagnosed?

Our doctor will discuss your medical history and symptoms, and make a diagnosis based on a thorough examination. He or she will also check for other problems in your shoulder joint to rule out other conditions. X-rays are routinely performed to rule out arthritis and look for bone spurs or other bone changes. In some cases, our physician will perform an ultrasound, MRI, or arthrogram.

How is impingement syndrome treated?

The most common treatments are conservative: Prescribed stretches, heat compresses, and avoiding repetitive overhead movements for a while. Oral anti-inflammatories such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can relieve inflammation and pain. Discuss dosages with our doctor to prevent stomach irritation. Many patients also find relief with steroid or cortisone injections. 

We will refer you to our Physical Therapy department for individualized stretches and strengthening exercises. This helps prevent recurrence of symptoms. In severe cases that result in rotator cuff tears, we may recommend arthroscopic surgery to repair it.


Fortunately, shoulder procedures are a particular area of expertise for the board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons at Orthopedic Specialists. If you are experiencing pain or weakness with overhead arm movements, call Orthopedic Specialists or schedule a consultation online today. 

What we offer