Shoulder injuries are often the result of trauma, overuse or repetitive motion, whether sustained by sports injury or normal daily activity. A healthy shoulder is the most mobile of all joints in the body, but such mobility comes with the downside of being vulnerable and susceptible to injury. Shoulder injuries may result in limiting range of motion and pain or discomfort – affecting performance and ability. A number of shoulder injuries are sustained by landing on the elbow or outstretch hand, or by repetitive motion that places stress on the shoulder.
The shoulder consists of three bones − the humerus (upper arm bone), the clavicle (collarbone) and the scapula (shoulder blade) – along with ligaments that connect the bones to one another and tendons that connect bones to muscles. The shoulder also has three joints: the glenohumeral joint (the ball and socket joint), the acromioclavicular (A/C joint) and the scapulothoracic joint. Surrounding muscles support and stabilize each joint. At the tip of the shoulder is the deltoid muscle and underneath the deltoid is a network of four muscles known at the rotator cuff.
Much of the time, shoulder pain is attributed to instances of inflammation, instability, fracture or arthritis.
Common Shoulder Injuries and Conditions
Rotator Cuff Tear
According the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, rotator cuff problems are the most likely shoulder-related cause for people to visit with an orthopaedic physician. The four muscles that make up the rotator cuff work to support the shoulder and it’s their healthy functioning that is required to be able to lift and rotate the arm. When one of these tendons is torn – perhaps from falling on an outstretched arm or lifting a heavy object with a jerking motion – range of motion is affected, and pain and discomfort are the likely results.
Shoulder Tendonitis and Bursitis
Similar to rotator cuff injuries, shoulder tendonitis and bursitis can also result from repetitive or stressful activity. This condition frequently causes pain and stiffness in an area of the shoulder join that has inflammation.
If you consider the pressure placed on the shoulder when throwing a football, swinging a bat, serving a tennis ball or swimming, it’s not hard to imagine that these actions could stress the shoulder and lead to inflammation. When the rotator cuff tendon or the bicipital tendon becomes inflamed and irritated, this is referred to as rotator cuff tendinitis or bicipital tendonitis respectively.
Subacromial bursa is the name of the protective area between the shoulder and tendons. Inflammation in this area is referred to as subacromial bursitis. In addition to being sports and stress related, tendonitis and bursitis of the shoulder are also common results of the aging process, as tendons and muscles become less elastic and more rigid with age.
As an inflammation of the joint, arthritis causes stiffness and ache. The shoulder can be affected by osteoarthritis (damage to cartilage), rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease), or arthritis triggered by a rotator cuff tear. People with arthritis often notice that their joints can “predict” a rainfall; changes in humidity can trigger pain.
Young people and athletes are among those commonly affected by shoulder instability − a condition that feels as though the shoulder is loose and may slip, or pop out of place. For an athlete, and unstable shoulder can be the result of muscles and ligaments being stretched beyond normal limits, perhaps due to extreme force on the shoulder while tackling, wrestling, pitching a baseball or serving a tennis ball.
When the ligaments holding the shoulder muscles to the bones tear in a manner that they can’t hold the joint together, the result is a dislocated shoulder. A dislocated shoulder can be extremely painful and requires immediate medical attention. A physician may treat a shoulder dislocation with an adjustment to put the shoulder back in place. However, a shoulder that repeatedly pops out of the socket is termed recurrent instability, requiring repair of the torn ligaments.
The shoulder can become dislocated in a number of ways – such as forward, backward or downward. A partial dislocation, also called subluxation, occurs when the humerus (the upper arm bone) becomes partially out of the glenoid (socket). In the case of a complete dislocation, the humerus is all the way out.
Also known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder begins with noticeable pain or discomfort that eventually fades, but is replaced by stiffness. As the Mayo Clinic notes, your chance of developing frozen shoulder increases “if you’re recovering from a medical condition or a procedure that affects the mobility of your arm,” including stroke, mastectomy or bone fracture.
From auto accidents to sports related collisions and falls, shoulder fractures can cause severe ongoing pain and adversely affect the shoulder’s range of motion.
Treating shoulder pain
Fortunately, there’s no need to resign oneself to living with shoulder discomfort, be it chronic pain, stiffness, limited range of motion or impaired performance. The medical professionals at the Gelb Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center have decades of experience in diagnosing and treating shoulder injuries and chronic conditions.
Whether you are a high performing elite athlete or an individual suffering from age related illness or injury, our highly specialized physicians will assist you in obtaining the optimal treatment plan.
Shoulder Injury Services
Among the shoulder injury services performed are:
- Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair and labral repair surgery
- Evaluation and treatment of fractures of the humerus and clavicle
- Total Joint Replacement of the Shoulder
- Evaluation and treatment of a variety of shoulder conditions, including tendonitis, arthritis, rotator cuff tear, labral tear, frozen shoulder, impingement, calcium tendinopathy, dislocations and instability
- Reverse total shoulder
- Open shoulder instability surgery
- Physical therapy of the shoulder
Those suffering from pain or discomfort as the result of an injury or condition of the shoulder will be best served to seek evaluation from an orthopaedic surgeon specialized in shoulder care. At the Gelb Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center, our medical staff is trained in the latest procedures used to procure optimal outcomes for patients.
Request an appointment online or contact us at 561-558-8898.