Impingement syndrome following direct injuries of the shoulder joint

G. Volpin, S. Stahl, H. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Impingement is the most common cause of pain and limitation of movement in the shoulder, with painful arc syndrome its major clinical sign. It usually becomes manifest at between 70 degrees-120 degrees of abduction, but in severe cases, this may be reduced to only 50 degrees-70 degrees. We studied 22 patients who had developed shoulder impingement following direct injuries and who had been treated by anterior acromioplasty and decompression, with an average follow-up of 32 months. 5 had sustained fractures of the greater tuberosity of the humerus at the time of injury, 14 had tears of the rotator cuff of various sizes (1 in both shoulders) and 3 had developed fibrotic scars of the subacromial bursa. Excellent or good results were achieved in 86.6%. Healing time was shorter, and there was return of full range of shoulder movement in those with subacromial scars, undisplaced fractures of the greater tuberosity, or those with a small tear of the rotator cuff. Recovery took longer in those with larger tears of the rotator cuff and in those with displaced fractures of the greater tuberosity. Recovery time was proportional to the size of the rotator cuff tear. It is concluded that direct trauma to the shoulder bears a direct relationship to the development of impingement syndrome, and that at surgery a concomitant tear in the rotator cuff is seen more than 2/3. Because of the high rate of success in surgical treatment of this syndrome, operation is indicated when a few months of physical therapy and analgesics fail to provide relief. In the presence of fractures, decompression surgery should be postponed until the fracture has united.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-247; 295
Issue number4
StatePublished - 15 Feb 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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