Surgery for Shoulder Impingement

For many people, nonsurgical treatments are enough to relieve shoulder impingement symptoms. But if these and other treatments haven’t worked, surgery may be an option. Surgery can help free up the joint space, allowing pain-free motion. Talk with your healthcare provider to see if surgery is right for you.

Surgery for shoulder impingement

The type of surgery you have depends on your shoulder problem. Surgery can remove the bursa if it is swollen. If the coracoacromial ligament is tight, it may be released. If the acromion is hooked or has bone spurs, a part of it may be removed. Before surgery, you’ll be given medicine to keep you free from pain. There are 2 different types of surgery, arthroscopy and open surgery:

  • Arthroscopy. Small cuts (incisions) are made in the shoulder. Next, a small, lighted tool (arthroscope) is inserted. A tiny camera is attached on one end of the arthroscope. The camera sends images to a video screen. This lets the surgeon see inside the shoulder.

  • Open surgery. Incisions are made in the shoulder so the surgeon can work inside.

Front view of shoulder joint showing inflamed bursa being removed.

Front view of shoulder joint showing tendon released and bone to be removed.

Front view of shoulder joint showing tendon released and bone to be removed.

A swollen bursa may be removed.

A tight coracoacromial ligament may be released.

A part of the acromion may be removed.

Risks and complications of surgery

Your healthcare provider will discuss the possible risks and complications of the procedure with you. These may include:

  • Infection

  • Damage to nerves or blood vessels

  • Loss of flexibility

  • Symptoms don't completely go away