Your shoulder is made up of three bones:
- The clavicle (collarbone)
- Humerus (upper arm bone)
- Scapula (shoulder blade)
These three bones are connected by tendons and muscles. You're able to move your arm in a circular motion because of the ball and socket joint in the shoulder. This is commonly called the rotator cuff.
When we injure the muscles or tendons, or when there is joint damage, the shoulder can become very painful.
Common Shoulder Problems
- Tendon damage - This can be tendonitis, bursitis or a tendon tear -- all typically caused by overuse.
- Arthritis - Can be caused from previous injuries to the shoulder or just your everyday wear and tear.
- Impingement - This happens when the top of the shoulder blade, called the acromion, puts pressure on the soft tissue underneath. when you try to lift your arm the acromion puts pressure on the rotator cuff tendons and bursa which causes pain and makes it hard to move your arm. Over time this can cause a rotator cuff tear.
- Shoulder dislocation - When the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket, or dislocated from where it belongs, there can be a lot of ligament, tendon and muscle damage in the area. This makes it possible for the shoulder to fully or partially dislocate again. This usually happens as the result of a sudden movement or impact.
- Fractures - This can be a fracture in any of the bones that make up the shoulder. Typically this is caused by a sudden impact, sports injury or fall.
Shoulder Therapy & Treatment
Depending on the injury there may be several options for treatment before surgery would be considered. Our orthopedic surgeons will visit with the patient to assess what hurts and the intensity of the pain. They are also likely to request diagnostic images such as an MRI or X-Ray to be able to see inside the shoulder and look for tears, fractures or other signs of injury.
- Physical therapy, including aquatic therapy - can be prescribed along with pain management medicines to help the patient heal.
- Arthroscopic shoulder surgery - This type of minimally-invasive surgery allows the orthopedic surgeon to use a camera to look inside the shoulder to better assess the cause of pain and repair damage. Learn more about arthroscopic surgery and how our orthopedic specialists use this technique to help patients.
- Shoulder joint replacement surgery
- Reverse shoulder surgery - This option is for those who have joint damage and there is damage to the rotator cuff. These patients wouldn't be able to use a regular shoulder joint replacement surgery due to the damage to the joint area that allows for arm rotation. In this surgery the ball is added to the scapula and the socket is added to the end of the humerus (upper arm) bone. Read more about this new surgery and Dr. Chin, one of the researchers on this surgery breakthough, available at SROSM.