Shoulder Impingement

Impingement of the shoulder is common to any age and is not always obvious to diagnose. The shoulder has a wide range of movements and it’s strength depends on the condition of the muscles and ligaments so early diagnosis is important to avoid other problems cropping up.


Shoulder impingement can happen as a result of overuse often associated with sports such as badminton, basketball, swimming or other sports that require an overhead or throwing action. Pain can be the result of a bursa (a fluid-filled sac that separates the bones in the shoulder joint) or a tendon being trapped or pinched between the arm bone and shoulder tip. There maybe a partial tear of the rotator cuff causing shoulder pain, but it is hard to raise the arm at all if this is the case but this is not to be confused with impingement of the shoulder.


When you bring your extended arm up from your side to a vertical position you will feel pain, especially as your arm gets nearer to your head. There can also be swelling and tenderness at the front of the shoulder. It will hurt if you try and perform any throwing action. Pain can be slight at first when using the arm or there can be severe pain all of a sudden. There is often a feeling of weakness and lack of mobility.


Early diagnosis is more than helpful for a good recovery, so if you think you have a problem act as as soon as possible. After seeking medical advice, your doctor may say that rest and stopping any overhead action along with anti-inflammatory’s will be adequate, or a cortisone injection may be needed. Your doctor will probably give you a course of physiotherapy treatment at a clinic including exercises to do at home. In more severe cases surgery is required, but the good news is that if there is more than one problem in your shoulder, they will all be dealt with in one hit!


Stretching is important for recovery, to maintain mobility of the shoulder joint and flexibility of the muscles and tendons. Depending on the severity of the injury you will be able to resume your sport in 1 to 12 months.