Symptoms of shoulder impingement syndrome include shoulder weakness, pain when extending the arms upward and difficulty reaching behind the back, states Cleveland Clinic. If the rotator cuff tears completely, the arm may be significantly weakened, and the patient may not be able to lift it.
Other symptoms of shoulder impingement syndrome and rotator cuff tendinitis in the early stages include minor pain in the shoulder in spite of activity level, sudden pain when lifting or reaching for something, and pain that radiates from the front of the shoulder to the side arm, according to OrthoInfo. Athletes may experience pain when serving a ball. Later symptoms include shoulder pain at night, decreased range of motion, loss of strength and difficulty completing activities requiring the hand to go behind the back. Pain that comes suddenly may cause severe tenderness in the shoulder and difficulty moving the joint.
A health care professional diagnoses shoulder impingement syndrome by completing a physical examination and taking the patient's medical history, confirms Cleveland Clinic.The doctor may use X-rays to check for bone spurs and rule out arthritis, and he may inject a small amount of anesthetic into the shoulder to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment includes pain medications and a physical therapy program.