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Shoulder Impingement

Whether due to injury or aging, shoulder impingement can lead to consistent and sometimes debilitating pain. This condition can make it difficult to reach upwards or even slip on your coat.

The highly skilled doctors at Hand Center of Louisiana in New Orleans are here to help. Keep reading to better understand what causes this condition, as well as its signs and symptoms. Afterward, we invite you to meet with one of our orthopaedic surgeons to discuss your treatment options.

What Is Shoulder Impingement?

Your arm is held into your shoulder socket by the rotator cuff. These tendons and muscles form a covering over the head of your upper arm bone and secure it to your shoulder blade. Most shoulder pain is caused by issues affecting the rotator cuff — including shoulder impingement.

Also called “shoulder impingement syndrome” or “swimmer’s shoulder,” this condition occurs when the bone on top of your shoulder rubs against, or impinges, the tendon. This can lead to irritation, inflammation and pain.
When left untreated, shoulder impingement may contribute to tendinitis or bursitis.

What Causes Shoulder Impingement?

Shoulder pain caused by impingement is common in young, middle-aged and older adults alike, especially among those who perform a lot of overhead activities. Athletes who swim or play baseball or tennis are particularly vulnerable to this condition, as are those with jobs that require a lot of overhead movement, such as construction, painting or paperhanging.

Shoulder impingement syndrome may also be due to bone and joint abnormalities, result from a minor injury or even appear with no apparent cause at all.

Signs and Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement

The typical signs that may indicate shoulder impingement syndrome include:

  • Pain when performing overhead activities.
  • Consistent pain in the shoulder, arm or neck.
  • Minor pain when at rest.
  • Joint stiffness or tenderness.
  • Weakness of shoulder muscles.
  • Limited range of motion.
  • Pain that radiates from the front of the shoulder to the side of the arm.
  • Difficulty performing activities that place your arm behind your back, such as buttoning or zipping.
  • Sudden pain that results in severe shoulder tenderness.

Diagnosis of Shoulder Impingement

To diagnose shoulder impingement, the knowledgeable physicians at Hand Center of Louisiana will meet with you for a physical examination. Besides reviewing your symptoms and medical history, your doctor will also measure your range of motion, test your arm strength and check for other areas with tenderness or deformity.

To ensure your shoulder impingement diagnosis, your physician may recommend diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRI, or ultrasound, which can be performed right here at our New Orleans facility.

Shoulder Impingement Treatment in New Orleans

Many of our patients struggling with shoulder impingement are successfully treated with non-invasive interventions. This includes:

  • Oral anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Rest and avoidance of repetitive overhead activities and athletics.
  • Stretching exercises.
  • Warm showers.
  • Steroid injections.

Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy, which we offer at the Hand Therapy Center, located within the Hand Center of Louisiana in New Orleans.

If significant weakness or pain persists, you may have a torn rotator cuff that requires surgery. We can perform this procedure at a nearby New Orleans hospital.

Relieve Your Painful Shoulder Symptoms at Hand Center of Louisiana

With more than 40 years of experience, you can trust the highly skilled and compassionate orthopaedic team at Hand Center of Louisiana. From your initial evaluation to the completion of your treatment, we offer a fully integrated experience all under one roof. Please schedule your appointment with one of our experienced doctors today.