When to Have Surgery for Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
Shoulder impingement syndrome is a painful condition in the shoulders that is generally caused by doing activities with your arms above your head. It can affect anyone, but it is commonly seen in swimmers, tennis players, and other athletes who frequently raise their arms. When shoulder injury occurs, the muscles of the rotator cuff swell up. This becomes a problem because these muscles are trapped underneath the shoulder bones, so surrounding tendons and the bursa become impinged.
In order to diagnose shoulder impingement syndrome, your provider will do a physical examination and should order X-ray imaging as well to clearly see abnormalities in the shoulder bones. Our physicians ask that you bring these X-ray images to your OrthoArizona appointment so they can determine the severity of the condition.
Before deciding that surgery is needed to treat shoulder impingement syndrome, our physicians may initially recommend a series of interventional pain management techniques. First, patients may be instructed to take anti-inflammatory medication to control shoulder pain. In more severe cases, the physician may recommend a corticosteroid injection, which is an anti-inflammatory medication injected directly into the shoulder. If medication does not seem to be working, physical therapy at OrthoArizona may also be recommended The physical therapist can work with the patient to increase range of motion and reduce swelling. Our physical therapists generally recommend using ice instead of heat to tend to persistent shoulder pain at home.
However, in some cases, the patient will need surgery to treat shoulder impingement syndrome. Surgery is usually only needed if the patient has torn his or her rotator cuff. All of our physicians are board certified in orthopedic surgery and many of them specialize in arthroscopic surgery, a procedure commonly used to repair certain degrees of rotator cuff tears. In the event of surgery, physical therapy may be needed to rehabilitate the shoulder and regain range of motion. Surgery is not typically the first choice of either our patients or our staff, so the other shoulder impingement syndrome pain management treatments are usually done first. Additional imaging could be needed to confirm the rotator cuff has torn before surgery becomes an option.
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.