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Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2017 Nov 10;114(45):765-776. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2017.0765.

Impingement Syndrome of the Shoulder.

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Department of Trauma, Shoulder and Hand Surgery at Agatharied Hospital Hausham.



Shoulder pain is the third most common musculoskeletal complaint in orthopedic practice. It is usually due to a defect of the rotator cuff and/or an impingement syndrome.


This review is based on pertinent literature retrieved by a selective search of the Medline database.


Patients with shoulder impingement syndrome suffer from painful entrapment of soft tissue whenever they elevate the arm. The pathological mechanism is a structural narrowing in the subacromial space. A multiplicity of potential etiologies makes the diagnosis more difficult; it is established by the history and physical examination and can be confirmed with x-ray, ultra - sonography, and magnetic resonance imaging. The initial treatment is conservative, e.g., with nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, infiltrations, and patient exercises. Conservative treatment yields satisfactory results within 2 years in 60% of cases. If symptoms persist, decompressive surgery is performed as long as the continuity of the rotator cuff is preserved and there is a pathological abnormality of the bursa. The correct etiologic diagnosis and choice of treatment are essential for a good outcome. The formal evidence level regarding the best treatment strategy is low, and it has not yet been determined whether surgical or conservative treatment is better.


Randomized controlled therapeutic trials are needed so that a standardized treatment regimen can be established.

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