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Shoulder Impingement

Are you an athlete who participates in sports that involve throwing overhead? If so, you may be at risk of developing shoulder impingement. One of the most common causes of shoulder pain is shoulder impingement. Shoulder impingement specialist, Dr. Nikhil Verma provides diagnosis and both surgical and nonsurgical treatment options for patients in Chicago who have developed shoulder impingement. Contact Dr. Verma’s team today!

An Overview on Shoulder Impingement

One of the most common complaints in shoulder specialist Dr. Nikhil Verma’s orthopedic office is shoulder pain. The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body and an injury to the joint can be debilitating, including shoulder impingement. Shoulder impingement is an injury that refers to the impingement (pinching) of the tendons of the rotator cuff. The repetitive, ongoing pinching leads to inflammation, swelling and pain in the shoulder. Swimmers in the Chicago, Westchester, Oak Brook and Hinsdale, Illinois area are at an elevated risk of this injury, causing the condition to also be called “swimmer’s shoulder.”

Shoulder impingement is quite common and can occur with no apparent cause. The condition occurs when the tendons of the shoulder joint (rotator cuff) are damaged as they glide against the bones and ligaments of the shoulder joint. Swimmers and other athletes are prone to “swimmer’s shoulder” since this injury is often caused by chronic overuse resulting in bone spurs. Age may also be a contributing factor to this injury since bone spurs tend to develop as a patient ages. Irritation of the tendon and subacromial bursitis is also associated with this condition.

Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement

The most common complaint of shoulder impingement is pain. The pain will be felt over the front of the shoulder and outside of the upper arm, often intensifying at night leading to loss of sleep. Other common symptoms of this shoulder injury include pain with overhead activity, shoulder weakness and shoulder grinding.

Diagnosis of Shoulder Impingement

Patients, including swimmers and other athletes, are advised to report shoulder pain as quickly as possible. The sooner a patient reports pain, the least amount of inflammation will develop and mask the true injury symptoms. Shoulder impingement can be diagnosed by a physical examination. An MRI and X-ray may also be used to rule out other possible shoulder injuries.

Treatment of Shoulder Impingement

The goal of shoulder impingement treatment is to reduce pain and restore shoulder function. Dr. Verma will begin with a non-surgical treatment plan considering the patient’s age, activity level and severity of symptoms.


Many patients experience improvement and return to function with a non-surgical approach. The pain and inflammation will be addressed with a combination of rest and diminished activity of the affected shoulder. A physical therapy regimen and anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) prove to be effective at treating the pain associated with this condition. If pain continues, Dr. Verma will recommend an injection of corticosteroid to the subacromial bursa. The injection can be more effective at managing symptoms than NSAIDS.


In cases where non-surgical treatment does not relieve pain, Dr. Verma may recommend arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Arthroscopic surgery involves the use of several very tiny incisions and the insertion of a camera and special surgical instruments. During the procedure, the rotator cuff will be examined to detect any possible tearing. The bone spurs causing the impingement are then removed along with the area of inflammation in the subacromial bursa. The result is a smoothed down area allowing for pain free motion and a faster return to normal activities.

For more information on shoulder impingement, or to discuss your case of swimmer’s shoulder with shoulder specialist Dr. Nikhil Verma, please contact his Chicago, Westchester, Oak Brook and Hinsdale, Illinois area orthopedic practice.

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