top of page

Rotator Cuff Impingement

Rotator cuff impingement is a common shoulder condition characterized by the compression or pinching of the tendons and soft tissues of the rotator cuff against the acromion. The acromion is a bony projection of the shoulder blade. Understanding the anatomy of the shoulder is crucial in comprehending how rotator cuff impingement occurs. The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons and muscles that surround the shoulder joint providing stability and facilitating a wide range of motion. These tendons pass underneath the acromion and through a narrow space known as the subacromial space. When this space narrows due to various factors, the rotator cuff tendons can become irritated and inflamed leading to impingement.

Rotator Cuff Impingement Anatomy
Rotator Cuff Impingement Description

Several factors contribute to the development of rotator cuff impingement, including:

• Overuse or repetitive overhead activities such as throwing, swimming, or lifting weights.

• Poor shoulder biomechanics or muscle imbalances that alter the normal mechanics of the shoulder joint.

• Structural abnormalities such as bone spurs or irregularities in the shape of the acromion, which can narrow the subacromial space.

• Weakness or tightness in the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint leading to altered mechanics and increased stress on the rotator cuff tendons.

• Trauma or injury to the shoulder, such as falls or sudden impacts, which can exacerbate existing impingement issues.

These factors can result in inflammation and swelling of the rotator cuff tendons leading to pain and limited range of motion in the shoulder joint.

Rotator Cuff Impingement MRI
Rotator Cuff Impingement X-ray

The primary symptoms of rotator cuff impingement include:

• Pain and tenderness in the front or side of the shoulder especially with overhead activities or reaching behind the back.

• Weakness and fatigue in the shoulder muscles particularly during tasks that require lifting or holding objects overhead.

• Decreased range of motion in the shoulder joint with difficulty raising the arm or rotating it outward.

• Clicking or popping sensations in the shoulder during movement indicative of underlying tendon irritation.

Treatment strategies for rotator cuff impingement aim to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve shoulder function. Conservative approaches are typically recommended as initial management and may include:

• Rest and activity modification to avoid aggravating movements and allow the rotator cuff tendons to heal.

• Physiotherapy exercises focusing on strengthening the rotator cuff muscles, improving shoulder stability, and restoring range of motion.

• Modalities such as ice therapy, acupuncture, heat therapy or ultrasound to reduce pain and inflammation in the affected shoulder.

• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroid injections to alleviate pain and swelling in the shoulder joint.

In cases where conservative treatments fail to provide relief or if there are signs of significant tendon damage, surgical intervention may be considered to address structural abnormalities and repair the damaged rotator cuff tissues. Toronto's Revita Therapy provides a comprehensive treatment program tailored to the individual's specific needs and lifestyle for effectively managing Rotator Cuff Impingement and preventing long-term shoulder dysfunction.

Start Your Rotator Cuff Impingement Program Today 
bottom of page