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Who is at Risk for Shoulder Impingement?|Is Surgery Necessary for Treating Shoulder Impingement?

What Is Shoulder Impingement And Who Is At Risk For It?

Shoulder Impingement is a painful condition of the shoulder characterized by pain with any attempts at lifting the shoulder or moving the shoulder in any direction. It becomes increasingly painful to lift your child, put your hand to the back pocket, and lifting items from the top shelf if you have shoulder impingement.

Shoulder Impingement results when the tendons of the rotator cuff becomes impinged between the bones of the shoulder when the shoulder is moved. This results in inflammation and irritation of the tendons causing pain and swelling. At times, there is also inflammation of the bursa causing shoulder bursitis as a result of Shoulder Impingement. Certain traumatic injuries to the shoulder such as a fall while playing contact sports on the shoulder are also one of the causes of Shoulder Impingement.

People who are involved with playing sports like tennis, golf, swimming, and weightlifting are at most risk for developing Shoulder Impingement. Construction workers and manual laborers are also at great risk for developing this condition due to the repetitive use of the shoulders with heavy lifting, pushing, and pulling of items in their line of work causing Shoulder Impingement.

Shoulder Impingement

What Are Some Of The Symptoms Of Shoulder Impingement?

Some of the symptoms of Shoulder Impingement are:

  • Pain in the shoulder with any attempts at movement, especially overhead and sideways.
  • Pain in the shoulder radiating down to the elbow.
  • Pain on the affected shoulder with lying on that side.
  • Pain even at rest with progression of the disease condition.
  • Muscle weakness with attempts at lifting objects can be a symptom of shoulder impingement.
  • Pain with reaching for a seat belt before driving can also be a symptom of shoulder impingement.

Is Surgery Necessary For Shoulder Impingement?

Is Surgery Necessary For Shoulder Impingement?

Now, coming to the question on whether surgery is required for Shoulder Impingement the answer is simple that surgery is not necessary for treatment of Shoulder Impingement. However, in some cases surgery has been deemed to be necessary but these cases are few.

Initially the treatment begins with intervention pain management techniques with utilizing NSAIDs or corticosteroid injections. If these two fail then the patient may be put in a shoulder sling to allow the tendons to heal and the inflammation to calm down. The patient will then be sent to a physical therapist to work on strength, range of motion, and agility programs.

Surgery is basically needed in cases where along with Shoulder Impingement the patient has a rotator cuff tear. However, surgery is not the preferred choice of treatment for Shoulder Impingement and other forms of therapy are utilized for treatment of this condition.

Periodic imaging will have to be done to confirm a diagnosis of a rotator cuff tear before surgery can be considered as an option for treatment in cases of Shoulder Impingement.

In conclusion, the surgery is not necessary for treatment of Shoulder Impingement unless the patient has torn the rotator cuff, which can be diagnosed with advanced imaging like CT and MRI scans. Other than this, the preferred mode of treatment is only conservative when it comes to treating Shoulder Impingement.


  1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2021). Shoulder Impingement/Rotator Cuff Tendinitis. OrthoInfo https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/shoulder-impingementrotator-cuff-tendinitis

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 30, 2023

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