Close look on shoulder impingement syndrome

Shoulder impingement syndrome involves intermittent ensnaring and compression of the rotator cuff tendons during shoulder movement. This results to damage to the shoulder tendons and bursa, leading to painful shoulder movements.

Once impingement occurs during shoulder movement, the rotator cuff tendons become swollen and inflamed which leads to rotator cuff tendonitis. In the same way, if the bursa is inflamed, shoulder bursitis develops. Take note that both conditions might be present at the same time or independently.

Even though traumatic injury such as a fall can lead to impingement, the repetitive movement of the arm into the impingement zone (overhead movements or using the arm at or near the shoulder height) frequently causes the rotator cuff to rub against the external end of the shoulder blade. If this occurs repeatedly, the inflamed rotator cuff is ensnared and crushed under the shoulder blade.


Shoulder pain that can radiate from the upper part of the shoulder to the elbow.

What are the indications?

Generally, shoulder impingement syndrome triggers the following indications:

  • Shoulder pain that can radiate from the upper part of the shoulder to the elbow
  • Arc of shoulder discomfort when the arm is at shoulder level and/or if overhead
  • Discomfort when lying on the sore shoulder
  • Muscular weakness or achiness when reaching or lifting
  • Pain in the shoulder while at rest as the condition progresses
  • Pain when reaching behind the head or back

Management of shoulder impingement syndrome

There are various structures that can be damaged if shoulder impingement syndrome develops. The root of the impingement should be determined. This is vital if the start was gradual since dynamic and static posture, flexibility, muscular strength and spinal form have vital roles to play.

Once any rotator cuff injury is suspected, it is essential to confirm the precise type of injury since the treatment is based on the specific injuries.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on shoulder impingement syndrome is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to manage this joint condition, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Victoria, Surrey, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Red Deer, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.


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