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Rotator Cuff Impingement

Rotator Cuff Impingement

Rotator cuff impingement is a common condition that affects the shoulder joint. It occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles become pinched or compressed as they pass through a narrow space in the shoulder joint. Here is a detailed description of rotator cuff impingement, including its anatomy, mechanism of injury, non-operative and operative treatments, and recovery:




The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and their tendons that connect the shoulder blade to the upper arm bone. These muscles and tendons work together to stabilize the shoulder joint and allow for movement of the arm. The rotator cuff muscles include the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis.


Mechanism of Injury:


Rotator cuff impingement typically occurs as a result of repetitive overhead activities or other activities that involve lifting the arm. As the arm is raised, the rotator cuff tendons may become pinched or compressed between the bones of the shoulder joint, causing inflammation and pain. Other factors that may contribute to the development of rotator cuff impingement include age, shoulder instability, and poor posture.


Non-Operative Treatment:


Non-operative treatment for rotator cuff impingement typically involves rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and corticosteroid injections. Rest and ice can help to reduce pain and swelling, while anti-inflammatory medications can help to reduce inflammation. Physical therapy can help to improve range of motion and strength, and corticosteroid injections can provide temporary relief from pain and inflammation.


Operative Treatment:


If non-operative treatments are not effective, or if the rotator cuff is severely torn, surgical intervention may be necessary. Two common surgical procedures for rotator cuff impingement are arthroscopic subacromial decompression and rotator cuff repair. Arthroscopic subacromial decompression involves removing bone and soft tissue from the underside of the shoulder blade to create more space for the rotator cuff tendons. Rotator cuff repair involves suturing the torn tendon back to the bone.




Recovery from rotator cuff impingement can take several weeks to several months, depending on the severity of the injury and the type of treatment. Non-operative treatment usually involves a period of rest followed by physical therapy to help restore strength and range of motion. Surgical recovery may involve immobilization of the arm for a period of time, followed by physical therapy to regain strength and range of motion. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions for rehabilitation and to avoid activities that may cause a re-injury.

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