The shoulder is a very complicated part of the human body machinery. It has a very good motion capacity, but is not very stable. Only if all the parts of the complex shoulder system are in good condition, the shoulder will move smoothly and without pain. Impingement syndrome causes inflammation because of the rubbing of the rotator cuff tendons against the acromion. If the nonsurgical treatments don’t provide any results, surgery is necessary to solve the problem.
Causes and symptoms of a shoulder impingement
A shoulder impingement is not a rare condition with patients who have pain in their shoulder, especially in the middle-aged group of people. The impingement is normally caused by an injury triggered by stretching the shoulder in an awkward position or some kind of repetitive activity that constantly creates shoulder pressure (like painting for a long time, lifting heavy weights, swimming, tennis and similar activities that require continuous use of the shoulders). The symptoms of shoulder impingement always include pain while moving and lifting the arm. The symptoms are mild in the beginning, but if the problem is left untreated, the pain will increase especially at night, the arm will lose its strength and motion abilities, and simple everyday activities that require moving of the shoulder will become painful. Surgery is not necessary for every case and the majority of patients are relieved with simple stretching exercises or particularly with a mild form of yoga. But if the non-surgical treatment doesn’t give the desired results, the doctor will recommend a shoulder impingement surgery.
After nonsurgical treatment has been tried and failed to give satisfactory results, surgery is performed with the aim to remove the problem that caused the impingement. With the surgical method, more space is created for the rotator cuff. The surgeon removes the inflamed part of the bursa (a procedure called bursectomy) and if necessary, performs an anterior acromioplasty to remove a portion of the acromion if it has been inflamed. If a combination of the both mentioned procedures is necessary, the doctor performs a shoulder surgery called a subacromial decompression. The operation can be performed with an arthroscope technique, or with an open surgical technique which has a longer recovery time but is sometimes inevitable.
Recovery from surgery
After the shoulder impingement surgery, the patient will need to wear an arm sling for a few weeks, so the healing procedure could evolve faster. Some patients are prescribed anti-inflammatory medications. A post-operative physiotherapy is needed so the arm could regain its strength and flexibility. Some patient may feel pain in the treated shoulder after the recovery time is passed, and another surgery is necessary, although this is a rare case. After the period of reduction of activity is successfully completed, the patients who had the procedure are recommended to practice yoga, t’ai chi ch’uan or another discipline that is not aggressive, but activates all parts of the body, in order to maintain the proper function and flexibility.