We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. Cookies are files stored in your browser and are used by most websites to help personalise your web experience.

By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more
For more information, go to

Painful arc (impingement) syndrome

Back to Specific shoulder problems

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and their tendons. It controls movement and also helps to hold your shoulder joint together. When rotator cuff tendons become inflamed or worn, it causes a painful arc or 'impingement' syndrome.

Doctors may use different terms to describe the same condition, such as supraspinatus tendinitis or subacromial bursitis.

If you have a painful arc you'll usually feel pain as you lift your arm away from your body. This may happen because there isn’t enough space for the tendons to pass freely.

Treatment for painful arc is mainly with physiotherapy. Sometimes a steroid injection, combined with a local anaesthetic, into the space below the acromion can help with the pain. But if the pain doesn’t settle, or comes back within a few months, you may need keyhole surgery.

Previous Next
Back to Specific shoulder problems


0800 5200 520

Our new helpline: Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes

More Information Close
For more information, go to or call 0300 790 0400 to order the complete printed booklet.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.