ANATOMY OVERVIEW OF THE SHOULDER
The shoulder is the most moveable joint in your body. It helps you lift and rotate your arm, reach over your head and turn in many directions.
Your shoulder is made up of three bones: the humerus, scapula and clavicle. The shoulder socket is called the glenoid. The rotator cuff, which is a critical part of the shoulder, consists of a group of muscles and tendons to keep the humerus in its socket. There are two joints in the shoulder: the AC joint and glenohumeral joint.
INJURIES TO THE SHOULDER
Injuries of the shoulder area can be exceptionally debilitating since properly functioning bones, joints and muscles of the shoulder are critical in the performance of nearly all activities of daily living. Common shoulder injuries occur most often as a result of athletic activities that involve excessive, repetitive overhead motion, such as swimming, tennis, golfing, pitching and weightlifting. However, everyday activities like washing walls, hanging curtains and gardening can also cause injury to the shoulder.
Most shoulder injuries involve the muscles, ligaments and tendons rather than bones and can lead to instability, limited mobility, arthritis, fractures, dislocation, or nerve injury (brachial plexus), and may include:
Rotator cuff tears – When the group of four muscles that come together as tendons to hold the upper arm (humerus bone) in the shoulder socket are “torn,” causing pain and decreased range of motion
Bicep tendinitis – An inflammation of the upper biceps tendon that connects to the shoulder bones causing pain
Frozen shoulder – A condition that prevents the ability to move your shoulder, either on your own or with help
WHEN TO SEE A SHOULDER SPECIALIST
- If you are experiencing shoulder pain, continued swelling or discoloration from overuse or an injury that doesn’t improve or worsens within a few days
- If you are unable to rotate your arm in all of the normal positions
- If you feel that your shoulder could pop out or slide out of the socket
- If you lose shoulder strength and the ability to carry out typical daily activities
- If you are referred by your primary care physician or other specialist
- If your current, conservative treatments including physical therapy are not helpful or make your condition worse
Your doctor will discuss all treatment options with you. The best treatment for your injury or condition will be determined in combination with your overall health.
There are several nonoperative treatment options for shoulder pain. These might include physical therapy or pain management in the form of over-the-counter or prescribed medications and/or anti-inflammatories. If surgery is necessary, PSO shoulder specialists can perform a wide variety of procedures ranging from minimally invasive to major reconstruction.