Have you noticed swelling and tenderness in your shoulder? Do you experience pain and stiffness when lifting your arm? These could be symptoms of impingement, a common source of pain in the shoulder for our Florida orthopedic patients. Impingement is a general term for pain and irritation that occur when a bone presses on (or “impinges” on) the rotator cuff. Impingement-related problems are often progressive, in this order:
1. Bursitis. Impingement frequently begins as shoulder bursitis. The bursa is a lubricating sac located between the rotator cuff and the bone on top of your shoulder which allows the rotator cuff tendons to glide freely when you move your arm. The bursa can become inflamed and swell with more fluid, causing pain.
2. Rotator cuff tendinitis. The rotator cuff is made up of muscles and tendons in your shoulder which cover the head of your upper arm bone (humerus). This “cuff” holds the humerus in the shoulder socket. Tendinitis occurs when rotator cuff tendons become irritated or damaged.
3. Rotator cuff tear. Left untreated, bursitis and tendinitis can eventually become a tear in the tendon. Partial tears do not completely sever the soft tissue, while full thickness tears split the soft tissue into two pieces.
Shoulder impingement is most often experienced by people over 40 who participate in activities involving repetitive lifting or overhead motions. Young athletes, such as swimmers, baseball players and tennis players, are also vulnerable. Occasionally it occurs with no apparent cause.
If you suffer from weakness or pain when lifting or rotating your arm that won’t go away, call the experts at Fort Lauderdale Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine for a personal consultation at (954) 400-5544. Our treatments can reduce pain, restore function and get you back to your normal routine.