Shoulder Impingement – Bursitis

Did your shoulder pain start out as a minor complaint after an accident? Did you think it would go away if you ignored it? You are not alone. Impingement is common in the young and old and can occur in car accidents, bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, and slip and fall accidents. Shoulder impingement is a soft tissue injury. It occurs when the scapula rubs or pressures the rotator cuff causing increasing damage, pain, and loss of range of motion.

Shoulder Impingement

Impingement starts when the shoulder sustains trauma or injury leading to compression of the soft tissue under the acromion. The soft tissue (rotator cuff muscles, tendons, and bursa) are located between the acromion and the head of the humerus. This area is called the sub-acromial space. Once the soft tissue is aggravated, they become inflamed and swollen. This leads to a cycle of compression and inflammation.

Shoulder Impingement Treatment

Conservative treatment should be pursued prior to surgery. Physical therapy is very effective in many cases of shoulder impingement, especially if therapy starts promptly after injury. The next step is usually corticosteroid injections into the sub-acromial space to reduce swelling and pain. If physical therapy and injections both fail to alleviate the problem, then arthroscopic surgery is recommended.

Following surgery, the arm will be immobilized for a short time. This will be followed by more physical therapy to improve range of motion and strength. It will take 2-4 months to achieve full pain relief.

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