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Impingement Syndrome / Rotator Cuff Tendonitis


Common Causes

Repetitive overhead use of the arm (tennis, hammering, gardening), frequent lifting, a fall on the shoulder or outstretched arm.



Pain in the shoulder or down the side of the arm. Usually fairly comfortable at rest. Pain with lifting the arm overhead, or sleeping on your side.


Physical Findings

Tenderness, positive ‘impingement test’.



X-Rays. and physical examination, MRI (rarely).


Non-operative Treatment

Rest, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy. Possibly a trial of a corticosteroid injection.


Surgical Treatment

Shoulder arthroscopy, with arthroscopic decompression


Injury Comment

Generally curative with non-operative care when treated early. Arthroscopy is highly successful, with an early return to activities. Prolonged or worsening symptoms may be signs of a rotator cuff tear.