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Impingement Syndrome

Shoulder pain when raising your arm may mean you have impingement syndrome. This is pinching within your shoulder. The problem may have been caused by repeating an overhead motion. In some cases, you may feel a nagging pain even when you’re not using your shoulder.

Symptoms of Iminigement

You may feel pain, pinching, or stiffness in your shoulder. Pain often comes with movement. But you may also feel it when you’re not using your shoulder. For example, you may feel pain while trying to sleep.

Causes of Impingement

Shoulder impingement is often caused by making repeated overhead movements. Constant shoulder use can irritate the tendons and bursa, leading to swelling. Swollen parts of the shoulder take up more room, making the joint space smaller.

  • Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa, a sac of fluid that cushions shoulder parts as they move. The bursa fills up with too much fluid, filling and squeezing the joint space.

  • Tendinitis is inflammation of the tendons, fibrous tissues that connect muscle to bone.

  • Bone problems can make impingement worse. The acromion is part of the shoulder bone. It may be flat or hooked. If your acromion is hooked, the joint space may be smaller than normal. This makes you more prone to shoulder problems. Bone spurs (growths on the bone) can also narrow the joint space.

Surgery for Shoulder Impingement

The type of surgery you have depends on your shoulder problem. Surgery can remove the bursa if it is swollen. If the coracoacromial ligament is tight, it may be released. If the acromion is hooked or has bone spurs, a portion of it may be removed. Before surgery, you’ll be given medication to keep you free from pain.

During arthroscopy, small incisions are made in the shoulder. Next, a small, lighted instrument (arthroscope) is inserted. A tiny camera is attached on one end of the arthroscope. The camera sends images to a video monitor, allowing the surgeon to see inside the shoulder.

During open surgery, incisions are made in the shoulder so the surgeon can work inside.

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