Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I've been getting treatment for a shoulder impingement problem but nothing's working. I've tried exercises, massage, stretching, ultrasound, and even acupuncture. I've been told subacromial decompression is the next step. Isn't there anything else I can try?


Shoulder impingement is a common problem, especially as we age. The protective pad called the bursa gets thin and even disappears in many adults. Without the proper space between the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) and the acromion (highest point of the shoulder), the shoulder tendons can get pinched as the arm is raised up.

Some patients don't get better after treatment for impingement because the rotator cuff is torn as well. Your surgeon will be able to check the rest of the shoulder when the decompression is done.

Subacromial decompression removes some of the bone to make room for the soft tissues. It's a very successful surgery for most people.

Kajsa M. Johansson, PT, PhD, et al. Effects of Acupuncture Versus Ultrasound in Patients with Impingement Syndrome: Randomized Clinical Trial. In Physical Therapy. June 2005. Vol. 85. No. 6. Pp. 490-501.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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