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What are the symptoms of shoulder impingement syndrome?

Dr. Howard J. Luks, MD
Sports Medicine Specialist

The symptoms of shoulder impingement vary dramatically, individual to individual. Some patients present with very mild discomfort, predominately on the side of their shoulder. Some patients present with profound discomfort, the inability to sleep and the inability to use their arm for most of their chosen activities of daily living.

It should also be noted that the term impingement is falling out of favor in the orthopedic community, particularly the academic orthopedic community. The most common cause of shoulder pain in the active adult is rotator cuff tendinosis. It is far more descriptive than shoulder impingement.

If you have discomfort on the lateral or outer side of your shoulder, pain with trying to lift objects, reaching behind your back or reaching for something on the upper shelf of your closet or kitchen cabinet then you are likely suffering from rotator cuff disease. Of course, there are other possibilities and if you have symptoms which lasts more than a week you should see your physician or an orthopedic surgeon for x-rays and further evaluation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.