Here are 7 common injuries and pains involving the shoulder joint. In all cases, medical advice is required and as always, the earlier the problem is caught, the greater the chances of recovery or improvement.
The shoulder, or chest girdle, is a structure that plays an essential role in many functions and movements. These include lifting, rotating and moving the arm. The shoulder bones are connected to a set of tendons, joints and muscles that work together to provide mobility. Any problem with any part of the shoulder can lead to shoulder pain.
There are three bones in the shoulder: the scapula, the clavicle and the humerus. Shoulder bone injuries include dislocations and fractures. Each of these injuries can lead to arthritis, which is inflammation of the joint. This article introduces the shoulder bones and other structures and discusses some common conditions that affect them.
The shoulder joint consists of the following parts:
– The scapula: The scapula, or scapula, is a large bone located in the upper back. It is triangle-shaped, with a ridge at the top called the scapular spine. Seventeen muscles attach to the shoulder blade and help stabilize and move it.
– Acromion: The acromion forms the upper part of the shoulder blade.
– Coracoid process: Also part of the shoulder blade, this small bone attaches to the lower part of the shoulder blade and points towards the chest.
– Clavicle: The collarbone sits at the top of the chest, below the neck, and extends vertically to each side. It is connected to the sternum by a joint called the sternoclavicular joint.
– Glenoid cavity: This is the articular cavity of the shoulder which meets the humerus.
– Humerus: This is the long bone of the upper arm. It connects the shoulder to the elbow.
Many types of soft tissue are connected to the bones in the shoulder, such as tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and muscles.
Here are some important and commonly injured structures:
– The rotator cuff: This group of muscles and tendons surrounds the shoulder joint. It includes the infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor muscles, which work together to rotate and move the shoulder.
– Tendons: The tendons of the rotator cuff and the bicipital tendons help lift the arm and rotate the shoulder. They are often the cause of shoulder injuries.
– Ligaments: These thick bands of tissue help connect bones. Some of the most important ligaments connect the shoulder blade, collarbone, and humerus.
– Serous bursae: These fluid-filled sacs help bones move more easily by reducing friction, especially along the joints. They allow tendons and muscles to slide over bones as they move. The larger bursa of the shoulder is below the acromion.
7 common shoulder injuries
1 Shoulder dislocation
A shoulder dislocation occurs when the humerus slides completely or partially out of the shoulder joint socket, or glenoid. Dislocations can move the humerus forward, backward, or downward. A forward dislocation, or anterior instability, is one of the most common injuries. Sports injuries can lead to shoulder dislocation, especially when the arm is in the throwing position. A person can also sustain other injuries, such as sprains and strains, resulting from the dislocation. Shoulder dislocation requires immediate treatment. The pain from the dislocation can be intense and the person may have trouble moving the shoulder. If left untreated, permanent nerve damage to the arm and hand may occur.
In most cases, a doctor treats a dislocated shoulder by putting the shoulder back into the joint. Sometimes it can be done safely in the office, but it may also require surgery. In general, a person should rest and immobilize their shoulder after a dislocation. She may also need physical therapy.
2 Sprains and strains
A sprain is an injury or tear to a ligament, while a strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. Rotator cuff sprains and strains are among the most common shoulder injuries. People can develop rotator cuff sprains or strains from sudden trauma, such as a fall or a clumsy blow. These injuries can also appear over time due to overuse or improper use. While minor injuries usually heal on their own, a complete soft tissue tear in the rotator cuff may require surgery. Another common sprain is that of the acromioclavicular joint, where the acromion is connected to the collarbone.
Tendinitis is swelling and inflammation of a tendon. It often affects the rotator cuff and usually appears steadily over time. It can result from overuse, awkward movements or positions, or sports such as tennis.
Depending on the severity of a person’s tendonitis, doctors may suggest the following treatment approaches:
– physical therapy
– corticosteroid injections
– platelet-rich plasma
A shoulder fracture occurs when a bone in the shoulder breaks. Trauma from a car accident, hitting an object, or falling can cause one or more shoulder bones to fracture or break. This type of injury can be very painful. However, a doctor may need to order an X-ray to distinguish a fracture from other injuries. Affected individuals should therefore seek immediate medical attention for an accurate diagnosis. Depending on the type of fracture, a person may need to wear a sling and immobilize the shoulder or have surgery. In addition, she may need pain medication and physical therapy.
Fractures can also occur in the following parts of the shoulder:
– Clavicle (clavicle): Children often break their collarbone in a collision or fall.
– Humerus: Fractures of this part are more common in adults, especially in the elderly who suffer low energy falls
– Scapula: Fractures are rare but can occur following a car accident or a serious fall.
Bursitis is an inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs that surround the shoulder joint. In most cases, it results from suboptimal repetitive use, such as in some sports. Medication, rest, and exercise can help heal bursitis, although some people also need physical therapy. Doctors may also prescribe corticosteroid injections. If bursitis does not respond to any of these treatments, surgery may be needed.
6 Bone Spurs
A bone spur is a bony growth that can affect any bone or joint, including the shoulder. Sometimes bone spurs cause no symptoms, but they can also be painful or make it difficult to move the shoulder. Arthritis can sometimes cause bone spurs. This can occur when cartilage damage affects the production of bone cells, causing them to proliferate and form bone spurs, usually along the joint. Pain medication can help, and bone spurs may not need treatment if they are not causing symptoms. However, people with symptoms may need surgery to remove the bone spurs.
Shoulder arthritis is not an injury per se, but it can result from an injury. Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. It can develop due to a chronic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, or wear and tear on the cartilage in the joint. Arthritis can cause pain, swelling, and difficulty moving your shoulder or arm. Treatment options depend on the type of arthritis, but may include:
– medicines for arthritis
– steroid injections
– physical exercise
If none of these treatments can provide relief and lessen the pain, a person may need surgical treatment, such as joint replacement.
The shoulder plays a vital role in many daily activities, whether it’s lifting and reaching, writing or driving. Therefore, shoulder pain can make regular functioning difficult, and suboptimal repetitive use can cause or worsen shoulder injuries.
People with shoulder pain can try home treatment first, especially if the pain is not severe or sudden. Many minor injuries heal on their own. However, serious injuries are unlikely to get better on their own and may get worse without treatment.
A person should contact a doctor with sudden severe shoulder pain, suspected shoulder dislocation or fracture, and any shoulder injury that does not improve with home treatment.
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