Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement (subacromial impingement or rotator cuff impingement) is a very common cause of shoulder pain. Patients experience gradual onset of shoulder pain and have pain lifting their arm out to the side and overhead.

The condition is related to a spectrum of disorders associated with the rotator cuff (the tendons around the shoulder) and its overlying bursa (fluid filled sac) and the space available for them under the bony roof of the shoulder (acromium). Inflammation and tendinopathy (diseased / damaged tendon) results in pain and “catching” or impingement. The acromio-clavicular joint (ACJ) may also be involved in the spectrum of disease. Shoulder impingement can affect people’s work, daily activities, sports and pain at night can be particularly troublesome.

The initial treatment of impingement is with painkillers, rest and physiotherapy. We can recommend physiotherapists to you. Steroid injections to the shoulder may be helpful, however, if symptoms persist then surgery in the form of keyhole (arthroscopic) subacromial decompression can be performed as a day case. Click here for a patient information leaflet about subacromial decompression surgery.