Shoulder Impingement is typically the result of abnormal pressure building up from the shoulder blade (Scapula) on the tendon linking four muscles around the shoulder joint known as the Rotator Cuff. The pressure and the pain this condition causes is usually most noticeable when the affected arm is lifted. If left untreated this condition often goes on to cause impaired joint mobility, a torn rotator cuff, frozen shoulder, bursitis and/or a debilitating loss of shoulder strength.
Shoulder Impingement usually occurs when the Rotator Cuff supporting the shoulder joint muscles becomes trapped and inflamed by the front edge of the shoulder blade (the Acromion). This condition is most common in athletes and workers who are required to repeatedly throw their arms over their head.
The use of regular anti-inflammatory medications and enforced rest of the affected shoulder joint for several months can often successfully alleviate this condition if it is caught at an early enough stage. In addition, physiotherapy aimed at progressively relaxing the swollen Rotator Cuff muscle and building up general shoulder strength can also prove useful in avoiding a re-occurrence once an improvement is achieved.
Surgical intervention is aimed at releasing the trapped Rotator Cuff, repairing any damaged tissues and clearing sufficient space around the cuff and within the joint space to allow free movement without further rubbing from the Scapula. In some cases creating sufficient space for the joint to move as freely as it needs may involve a decompression procedure known as a Subacromial Decompression whereby the anterior edge of the Acromian on the Scapula is removed.
This is most commonly performed arthroscopically.