Subacromial Impingement

Subacromial impingement is a common cause of pain, weakness and restricted movement in the shoulder. It’s caused by the shoulder tendons being irritated and inflamed by the acromion, a bony bump on the shoulder blade.

The pain of subacromial impingement can disrupt sleep, limit movement and make it difficult to raise your arm and enjoy normal activities. For many people rest, application of ice and anti-inflammatory medications can ease symptoms and resolve the problem. However, if your shoulder pain is limiting your ability to work, play and function, the shoulder specialists at the London Orthopaedic Clinic can treat the impingement and ease your discomfort.

The London Orthopaedic Clinic’s world-leading surgeons are experts in the treatment of subacromial impingement. They work with a specialist multidisciplinary team to offer a range of effective treatments including physiotherapy and steroid injections. If conservative measures haven’t worked, they can operate to decompress the joint in the clinic’s state-of-the-art operating theatres and support your full rehabilitation.

What is subacromial impingement?

Subacromial impingement is a spectrum of shoulder disorders caused by irritation of the rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder. When the arm is raised, the space between the tendons and a bony process on the shoulder blade narrows. The acromion can rub against the tendon or the fluid filled bursa, leading to pain, inflammation and tendon tears.
The problem can be triggered by injury or wear and tear, leading to damage or degeneration in the rotator cuff tendons. The irritated tendons become swollen, increasing the risk of rubbing on the bone which is painful and can reduce blood flow, making the tendon fray and compounding the problem.

Subacromial impingement is common with the risk rising with increasing age. Most cases improve spontaneously within a few weeks or months but for some people the pain can be chronic and debilitating.

Symptoms of subacromial impingement

The pain from subacromial impingement can start suddenly following an acute injury or build up gradually over time. The main symptom is dull aching pain that’s worse when you lift your arm. The pain is typically on the top and outside of the shoulder and the joint can ache at night, disturbing sleep. The arm may feel weak, and normal function and movement can be affected.

If your shoulder is restricting your ability to sleep, work or exercise, the London Orthopaedic Clinic can provide expert assessment, advice and treatment.

How can the London Orthopaedic Clinic help with subacromial impingement?

The specialist orthopaedic surgeons at the London Orthopaedic Clinic will fully assess the health and movement of your shoulder and the impact your symptoms have on your life. Your consultant will arrange investigation by X-ray, MRI or ultrasound in the cutting-edge imaging suite. This will provide more detailed information about the joint, so they can tailor a treatment programme that best addresses your needs. This can include:

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Why choose the London Orthopaedic Clinic?

The London Orthopaedic Clinic provides high-quality, expert orthopaedic and musculoskeletal care tailored to the individual needs of our patients. The Clinic is based at Mayo Clinic Healthcare, at the heart of London’s internationally renowned Harley Street medical district. The London Orthopaedic Clinic offers cutting-edge diagnostics, treatment, management and personalised care.

The expert multi-disciplinary team includes more than 25 leading orthopaedic surgeons, pain management specialists and radiologists. They work together to reduce pain, improve movement and make a real difference to patients’ lives.

The London Orthopaedic Clinic offers patients something truly unique: access to world-leading experts, high-tech imaging and the latest innovative treatments, together with the feeling of trust and safety of a small family practice.

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Subacromial impingement treatment at the London Orthopaedic Clinic may be covered by your health insurance policy. Competitive packages are also available for patients who are self-paying. Contact a member of our friendly team on 020 7186 1000 or at to find out more.