What is Shoulder Bursitis (Impingement)?

Shoulder bursitis (impingement) is an extremely common cause of shoulder pain and may occur with no apparent cause. Shoulder impingement refers to pinching, or impingement of the rotator cuff tendons between the tendons themselves and the undersurface of the acromion.  Ongoing tendon impingement causes patients to experience swelling, inflammation, and pain within the shoulder joint.

Since the shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body, it is prone to shoulder impingement. Overhead athletes and jobs that require repetitive shoulder movements or overhead activities are especially at risk for this shoulder condition. Certain individuals may even develop bone spurs under the acromion (flat bone located at the top of the shoulder blade) leading to severe impingement and chronic shoulder pain.

What are Shoulder Impingement Symptoms?

  • Pain with everyday activities, located over the front of the shoulder, and on the outside of the upper arm.
  • Shoulder weakness and a grinding sensation.

What are Shoulder Impingement Treatment options?

  • Rest
  • Avoiding activities that cause pain and discomfort
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Cortisone injection
  • Physical therapy

Does Shoulder Impingement Require Surgery?

For the vast majority of impingement cases, non-surgical treatment restores function and relieves shoulder pain.  In the few cases that conservative care does not help, then an arthroscopic shoulder decompression can be performed to remove the bone spurs, debride the excess inflamed bursa and fully evaluate the rotator cuff in great detail to assess for any potential tearing of the tendons.