What are the Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement?

Shoulder impingement is extremely common. The symptoms of shoulder impingement are shoulder pain when reaching overhead or reaching out to the side.

People often have pain reaching into the back seat of the car.

Another common symptom of shoulder impingement is pain lying on that shoulder which is sometimes so bad that it affects sleeping at night.

The many names of shoulder impingement

Shoulder impingement has many different names from rotator cuff tendonitis to partial tears of the cuff. Many people call impingement bursitis of the shoulder.

Shoulder impingement is caused when the rotator cuff and adjacent tissue are being crushed between 2 different bones of the shoulder: the acromion and the humeral head.

People have different shaped acromions, and people with a curved or pointed acromion are more likely to actually tear their rotator cuff.

A special type of x-ray called an outlet view will show the shape of your acromion.

Treating shoulder impingement

The symptoms of shoulder impingement are best treated with exercise, namely stretching and strengthening.

It is important to avoid anything that aggravates the shoulder especially overhead activity or heavy lifting. I use physical therapy to cure almost 100% of my patients and very rarely do my patients require surgery for this condition.

If therapy does not work, I will do an ultrasound-guided injection of cortisone which helps most people.

I consider surgery the last alternative, but if required the surgery takes me less than 20 minutes and my patients go home the same day.

It is a common procedure for a shoulder specialist, but again most people with impingement syndrome do not need surgery.

If you may be suffering from shoulder impingement, see the orthopedic doctors at Westchester Sport and Spine today.


Dr. Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. He is the Director of Orthopedic Surgery at Westchester Sport and Spine and has subspecialty training in knee and shoulder surgery, including minimally invasive surgery and arthroscopy. Dr. Weinstein is a Board Examiner for the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons, determining certification for other orthopedic surgeons.