Shoulder Impingement Syndrome


Our doctors specialize in multiple treatments for shoulder impingement. In most cases, the simplest course of action is to reduce or modify all activities that cause pain. Physical therapy can also reduce inflammation and strengthen the affected shoulder. Anti-inflammatory medications can provide some relief, as well, as can cortisone and platelet-rich-plasma injections.

While shoulder impingement can be painful, the good news is that its treatment is more than manageable. With some combination of anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy, most patients can quickly recover from the condition and resume normal physical activities. An injection of cortisone or platelet-rich-plasma may also benefit some patients. In a handful of cases, however, a minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery may be required to relieve the impingment and prevent further damage to the rotator cuff tendons.

If these more conservative treatments don’t resolve the symptoms, minimally invasive arthroscopic surgey may be necessary to treat your shoulder impingement and prevent future damage to your rotator cuff tendons. We particularly recommend this course of action if bone spurs are present, since the repeated scraping of the spurs against the rotator cuff can cause a tear in the cuff. Regardless, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic specialist to discuss your treatment options and decide which would work best for you.


At New York Bone and Joint, our philosophy is to provide all possible information and be sure you feel secure every step of the way. If minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery is necessary, our experienced shoulder specialists, Leon E. Popovitz, MD or Rupesh Tarwala, MD will discuss all the details and options with you.

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure performed with a few small pin-hole incisions. Your surgeon will insert a narrow telescope to view the affected tissue, and then will use small instruments to operate on the shoulder, removing the inflamed bursa surrounding the rotator cuff’s tendons as well as the bone spur or other protrusion responsible for the impingement. If the rotator cuff is torn, it will be repaired at the same time. If the AC joint in the shoulder is arthritic, a small portion of it may be removed as well. Your surgeon will then reshape the subacromial space to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence. After the surgery, there should be plenty of space for the rotator cuff to move freely.

Our doctors will strive to provide you with an absolute sense of security, providing all the necessary facts surrounding the procedure and working with you to determine a course of treatment that will ultimately improve your health and life.


How long does shoulder impingement take to heal? If your shoulder responds well to physical therapy, you may feel much better within a few weeks of treatment. If it doesn’t, however, there’s no cause for alarm: the average recovery time for shoulder impingement surgery is six to eight weeks. As an arthroscopic procedure, shoulder impingement surgery is designed to minimize damage to surrounding tissues and muscles, ensuring a quicker and less painful recovery. All patients can return home immediately after the operation, and will need to wear a sling for only one or two days before beginning physical therapy. The pain should largely subside within two weeks, and complete recovery should follow after six to eight weeks of physical therapy.


Shoulder impingement exercises should stretch the shoulder and strengthen the rotator cuff. Stretching your shoulders will help you restore your full range of motion, while strengthening your rotator cuff may prevent it from scraping against the bone above.


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