Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. The ball portion of the joint consists of the rounded head of the upper arm bone (humerus), and the socket portion is made up of a depression (glenoid) in the shoulder blade. The humeral head (ball) fits into the glenoid (socket), creating the joint that allows you to move your shoulder. The joint is surrounded and lined by cartilage, muscles, and tendons that provide support and stability and make it easy for you to move. It’s your shoulder joint that lets you rotate your arm in all directions. Your range of motion depends on the proper articulation of the humeral head upon the glenoid.
In a healthy shoulder joint, the surfaces of these bones where the ball and socket rub together are very smooth, and covered with a tough protective tissue called cartilage. Arthritis causes damage to the bone surfaces and cartilage. These damaged surfaces eventually become painful as they rub together. With that said, there are many different reasons why you could be feeling shoulder pain, including injury, infection, and arthritis.
Shoulder pain can be either acute or chronic, depending on when a diagnosis was made and how long the pain or disability has been felt for. An acute shoulder injury occurs suddenly either through direct impact, by overstretching a muscle, tendon or ligament, overusing a muscle or tendon, or twisting of the shoulder joint. However, if pain becomes chronic, it is important that you see an orthopedic doctor. While chronic pain is considered pain that lasts longer than six months, if the pain doesn’t seem right you should seek help as soon as possible.
Many shoulder problems are caused by the breakdown of soft tissues in the shoulder region. Using the shoulder too much can cause the soft tissue to break down faster as people get older. Doing manual labor and playing sports can also cause shoulder problems, whether from overuse or by sudden injury. The most common shoulder pain problems are:
- Rotator cuff disease
- Rotator cuff tear
- Frozen shoulder
Whatever the reason, continuing to suffer with shoulder pain shouldn’t have to be your only option. To learn more about the shoulder and the most common causes of shoulder pain, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 to request an appointment, or request one online.