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General Medical Questions
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Question : How likely is it that impingement syndrome with shoulder spurring would come back after treatment? I had surgery exactly one year ago for this condition, and now all my symptoms are back.
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. is associate physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. He has been a practicing rheumatologist for over 20 years at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is an active teacher in the Internal Medicine Residency Program, serving as the Robinson Firm Chief. He is also a teacher in the Rheumatology Fellowship Program.

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August 06, 2013
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Impingement syndrome refers to a condition in which moving the shoulder is painful due to pressure on the joint or tendons. Usually there is one specific part of motion (for instance, raising the arm forward) that is most painful. And this may lead to restricted motion.

One of the most common reasons is bony enlargement (spurring) of the shoulder blade where it meets the collarbone. That’s because the extra bone rubs (impinges) on the large tendons that lift the arm during shoulder motion. This leads to inflammation, injury and sometimes tearing of the tendons.

Surgery is generally quite effective for impingement syndrome when non-surgical options have failed. But improvement might be temporary if a new cause of tendonitis develops. For example, tendonitis in the shoulder is common in people with diabetes or athletes who repetitively stress the shoulder. It can also happen without a clear reason.

Another possibility is that you had more than one cause of shoulder pain in the first place. And while one cause has been solved, the other continues to put you at risk for recurrent pain. For example, say you had a partial tear of the rotator cuff (as might accompany past impingement). Your tendon might be more likely to further injury or inflammation just from routine activities. Finally, symptoms similar to impingement syndrome could also be due to arthritis or bursitis of the shoulder.

It is unlikely that the extra bone would grow back so quickly or that you would need repeat surgery for impingement.

Ideally, you should see your doctor for a fresh look at your shoulder. This may turn out to be a minor setback for what was otherwise a highly successful operation.

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