How to Know if You have Shoulder Impingement


Contrary to a common misconception, any pain that originates from the shoulder area is not a sign of shoulder impingement. Only a qualified doctor can rightly diagnose the condition. If you suspect you’ve shoulder impingement, consider visiting a physiotherapy clinic for proper assessment and treatment. In general, pain on the outside of the shoulder during overhead movements is a symptom of shoulder impingement. However, there are many other factors to consider for proper diagnosis. You can do the following two tests at home for an initial assessment.

1. Raising your arm above the shoulder

Bring your arm in front of you and try to raise it slowly above your head. If you feel any pain on the outside of your shoulder, this could be a sign of shoulder impingement. 

2. Empty Can Test

Bring your arm up in front of you. Then move the arm halfway to the side, away from your body at around a 45-degree angle. Now point your thumb downward to the floor. Next, try raising your arm upward while using another hand to resist the movement. If you feel any pain on the shoulder area at this point, it could be a positive test for impingement syndrome.

While you can perform the above tests at home, you must visit your doctor to be absolutely sure about whether or not you’ve impingement syndrome. Physiotherapists perform several other tests, such as, Hawkins-Kennedy Test and Neer’s Sign, to find out the exact location of the impingement. They also check for other symptoms, such as, swelling, muscle wasting, and bruising on the affected area. Your doctor considers your medical history, occupation and other lifestyle factors for a proper diagnosis and treatment. In some cases, your physiotherapist may even ask you to undergo certain medical tests, such as, X-ray and MRI, to rule out other problems.