An Overview of Subacromial Impingement
Subacromial impingement occurs when the tendons of the shoulder joint (or rotator cuff) are injured as they glide against the bones and ligaments of the shoulder. More specifically, the rotator cuff tendons can rub against the acromion process during overhead activities which can lead to pain and degeneration of the tendons. In some cases, bone spurs can develop under the flat bone found at the top of the shoulder blade (acromion) and can lead to more severe cases of impingement. Shoulder impingement symptoms include pain and weakness in the shoulder region and upper arm area as a result of persistent inflammation, pinching or rubbing of the tendons (known as the “impingement”). Austin, Round Rock, and Cedar Park, Texas communities shoulder specialist, Dr. Jeff Padalecki, is available to treat patients experiencing symptoms associated with subacromial impingement.
Subacromial impingement is tremendously common and can occur spontaneously with no apparent cause, although it is most often triggered by subjecting the shoulder joint to repetitive overhead activities— especially in athletic individuals. Age may also be a factor, since bone spurs tend to develop as we age. This condition is associated with mechanical irritation and inflammation of the subacromial bursa (known as bursitis).
What are the Symptoms of Subacromial Impingement?
The most common symptom associated with subacromial impingement is pain. Patients will feel pain over the front of the shoulder and on the outside of the upper arm, which classically presents itself when the arm is lifted in an arc out to the side and up to the ear.
Patients may feel pain when trying to complete seemingly “normal” movements, such as putting on a coat or a jacket. Pain is evident at rest and may interfere with sleep at night. Some patients have even described feeling a “locking” sensation in their arm.
How is Subacromial Impingement Diagnosed?
Dr. Padalecki will conduct a thorough examination by observing the shoulder and assessing the range of movement and locations of pain. A variety of tests may be utilized to look at the bones and joints including using X-rays (to check for bone fractures, bone spurs, calcific tendonitis, etc.), or an MRI to assess the soft tissue associated with the muscles and tendons.