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Causes of Shoulder Weakness and Pain

The shoulder joint has the greatest range of motion of all the joints in the human body. Its complexity is also its weakness, because the shoulder can become injured relatively easily.

Every time we make even the slightest motion with our arms, the shoulder is involved. And if you have arthritis, it can affect your shoulder as well as other joints.

Let’s talk about some of the reasons why you may experience shoulder pain and/or weakness, and what can be done about it.

Rotator Cuff Injury

This injury causes shoulder pain whenever you move your arm, reach, or even sleep. The injury may be a partial tear or a complete tear of a tendon in the shoulder.

The group of tendons and muscles that support the shoulder is called the rotator cuff. Rotator cuff injuries are one of the more common injuries to the shoulder.

The rotator cuff can suffer from tendonitis, tendonosis, strain, or a partial or complete tear of the tendon. This injury can also develop from repetitive stress on the shoulder. This injury can cause a stabbing, sharp pain or weakness in the shoulder whenever you move your arm in a certain way.

Shoulder pain when lying down is a standard indicator for a rotator cuff injury. The pressure of the arm being pulled flat causes the inflamed tendon to react, creating painful sensations from inside the joint.

Rotator cuff impingement occurs when irritation, inflammation, or compression of the bursae or tendons in the shoulder causes them to be pinched. This can happen due to overuse-type injury or traumatic injury.

Tear in the Glenoid Labrum

The glenoid labrum is a ring of cartilage in the shoulder that provides cushioning in the shoulder socket. This permits the ball of the shoulder to rotate freely.

The labrum performs two tasks. First, it supports the socket for the femoral head (the ball-shaped top of the femur, or upper arm bone). Second, it helps hold the structures of the shoulder together, giving it stability.

A single trauma, such as a dislocation of the shoulder, can cause the labrum to be torn completely or partially off the socket. There are varying severities of labrum tears; when it tears completely off the socket, the entire labrum must be surgically reattached.

Another type of labrum tear is damage to where the biceps tendon meets the labrum. Therefore, this type of injury usually involves a portion of the labrum as well as the tendon. 

Osteoarthritis

Often just called “arthritis,” osteoarthritis in the shoulder can cause a person to be unable to reach behind them due to excruciating pain if it is attempted. Whether you are trying to put on a belt or scratch your back, shoulder arthritis can be debilitating if it is not addressed by a physician. 

Shoulder Doctors in Colorado Springs

All of these causes of shoulder pain and weakness are quite common, and they have been treated successfully for decades. Conventional methods of physical therapy and pain-relief injections can work wonders, and surgery can alleviate the pain if the injury or arthritis is severe.

If you are in Colorado and are suffering from shoulder pain or another kind of musculoskeletal injury, contact our team today at the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence. Call us at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online, and let us help you find relief from your shoulder pain.

What Makes the Shoulder So Delicate?

Shoulders are the most mobile joint of the human body. They offer the greatest range of motion – and because of this flexibility, it is one of the most injured joints in the body. The shoulder involves three bones: the humerus (upper arm bone), the clavicle (collarbone), and the scapula (shoulder blade).

Your shoulder enables you to lift and throw objects in every way, including overhead. The ability to use your hands is largely thanks to the capability of the shoulder joint. 

In addition to the three bones that form the joint, there are numerous ligaments, tendons, and nerves that all play a significant role in using the shoulder. There is a joint capsule that is composed of a group of ligaments which connect the humerus to the glenoid socket, and these ligaments are responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joint.

Shoulder Injuries

When a shoulder is injured, the pain usually worsens with any movement of the arm. Let’s talk about the most common injuries, particularly a torn rotator cuff.

Rotator Cuff Tear

One of the most common types of shoulder injury is a torn rotator cuff. The rotator cuff comprises the tendons that attach the muscles to the bones around the shoulder joint.

An injury to the rotator cuff can cause a dull ache in the shoulder. The pain often gets worse if you try to sleep on that side or if you continue doing the motion that caused the injury. This injury occurs most frequently in people who perform overhead or repetitive motions in the course of their job or sports.

How Do You Get a Torn Rotator Cuff?

Painters, carpenters, hairdressers, artists, baseball players, and tennis players are all susceptible to a torn rotator cuff. Chances of injury increases with age and extensive use. 

Sometimes rotator cuff injuries are a result of a single acute incident. In cases like this, medical care should be sought as soon as possible so that the injury does not continue to worsen.

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Injury

If your rotator cuff is torn partially or fully, you will feel pain. It can be described as a dull ache deep in the shoulder or disabling pain whenever the arm is used or when pressure is placed on the rotator cuff.

It is often impossible to sleep on the affected shoulder, because the pain will awake you. You will also have difficulty reaching up to comb your hair, reaching back to put on a shirt, or reaching behind your torso.

Without treatment, rotator cuff problems may lead to permanent loss of motion and degeneration of the joint, necessitating shoulder replacement surgery. Even though using the joint is painful with this condition, keeping the shoulder completely immobilized can lead to a shortening and thickening of the connective tissues, resulting in frozen shoulder syndrome.

Your doctor will explain how much and how you should move your shoulder while it heals. Because tendons and ligaments take a longer time to heal than do muscles and skin, you can assume that your shoulder is healing as long as you are letting it rest and only moving gently.

Orthopedic Surgeons in Colorado

If you or someone you know has pain deep in the shoulder, it is likely that the cause is a torn rotator cuff. Contact the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence and let us perform a medical evaluation of your shoulder. 

Call us today at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online. Don’t let an aching shoulder keep you down and out any longer – seek help from Colorado’s premier orthopedists!