If you’re experiencing pain and swelling in your shoulder, you may be thinking, did I pull something? Did I tear a muscle? I must have slept on my side wrong. While any of these could be the source of your pain, it may be that you’re suffering from Impingement Syndrome! We spoke with one of our shoulder specialists, Dr. Matthew Yousif, to learn all about:
- What is impingement syndrome?
- What are the symptoms?
- How is it diagnosed?
- What can be done about it?
What exactly is Impingement Syndrome?
Shoulder Impingement Syndrome (SIS) is a shoulder condition stemming from Bursitis (fluid filled sacks) located inside of the shoulder joint. The Bursitis causes irritation, leading to inflammation and tenderness in the area, particularly when you lift your arms overhead. Though SIS can affect anyone, we see this condition more commonly in adults who are active with repetitive overhead activity, such as athletes and laborer. Some of the biggest sport contributors include golfing and tennis. Though less common, genetics also can play a factor in developing SIS, leaving some patients predisposed to the condition.
What does Shoulder Impingement feel like?
Patients with SIS usually present with pain in the front of the shoulder or on the outside of the shoulder caused by the inflammation. This is most often felt when performing overhead activities (like lifting, reaching or swinging) or in the evening. The pain and swelling leads to limited function of their shoulder, preventing some use of the arm and a reduction in the work you need to do and activities you want to do.
How is it diagnosed?
Luckily, Shoulder Impingement Syndrome is fairly easy to diagnose. Your orthopedic specialist will complete a physical exam, health history screening and will take some x-rays. If that isn’t quite enough, your surgeon may recommend you get an MRI, just to be sure.
What can you do about it?
The first line of defense is rest! If you feel you are developing SIS or any other shoulder condition, Dr. Yousif suggests taking at least 1-2 weeks off of overhead activity and incorporate an anti-inflammatory pain medication, if your medical history allows. Icing the shoulder at night can also help relieve some of the pain and inflammation caused throughout the day. You can also perform light shoulder stretches across the body or exercises with a resistance band, but nothing overhead! If the pain does not subside after a few weeks, it’s best to have a doctor take a look. Once it is determined that Shoulder Impingement Syndrome is present, your surgeon will likely target ant-inflammatory modalities and physical therapy first , depending on the severity of the condition. Cortisone injections might also be right for you. If your condition is more advanced, it is possible that your specialist will recommend arthroscopic surgery.
Does this condition sound like you?
If this doesn’t quite sound like your shoulder condition, check out one of our other blogs, So You Think You Hurt Your Shoulder: Common Injuries That Can Affect Anyone!