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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!

Warning Signs of a Shoulder Condition

Do you have a shoulder pain that makes you wonder whether you have a shoulder problem or if it’s just a normal ache that will go away? If so, below are some warning signs that may signify a shoulder condition. 

Main Indicators of a Shoulder Problem

If you experience any of the following problems with your shoulder, it’s a good idea to have it checked out by an orthopedic physician:

Range of Motion 

Range of motion refers to the flexibility of movement with your shoulder. If you notice a decrease in range of motion, or if you cannot move it as well as you normally can, you may have a shoulder condition. Something is wrong inside the shoulder joint that is preventing normal movement.

Swelling

Swelling is often the sign of an internal injury or condition. If you notice swelling on the shoulder, a doctor can diagnose and treat the condition so the swelling lessens or goes away completely.

Pain

When the shoulder functions properly, it does not hurt to perform regular movements. However, when you have a shoulder condition or injury, some or all of the functionality in the shoulder is hindered, and the slightest movements can cause pain.

Appearance 

Another sign of a shoulder condition is a physical deformity. If you notice a bump, bulge, or difference in how your shoulder appears as compared to the other shoulder, have a doctor evaluate the issue. Even if you are not experiencing pain, it may indicate an underlying problem that should be treated.

Common Shoulder Conditions

If you do have a shoulder condition, it is likely due to one of the following common issues: 

Rotator Cuff Tear 

The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles in your shoulder that help the shoulder to rotate. It’s where the humerus (upper arm bone) meets the socket of the shoulder.

A torn rotator cuff can be a result of an accident, the aging process, or overuse in a sport or profession. Susceptible professionals include painters, carpenters, and athletes such as baseball players and tennis players – all of whom perform overhead motions frequently.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder happens when the connective tissue that encapsulates your shoulder area (ligaments, tendons, and bones) thickens and tightens. This results in less range of motion for the shoulder. Frozen shoulder can also cause pain when you attempt to move it too much.

Fracture 

A fracture happens when too much force or pressure is put on a bone, and it cracks or breaks into pieces. Fractures in the shoulder can happen because of injuries, accidents, or weak bones due to conditions like osteoporosis.

Bursitis 

Bursitis happens when the bursa, a fluid-filled sac responsible for cushioning the shoulder joint, becomes inflamed due to overuse or injury. Bursitis causes pain when you move the shoulder.

Orthopedic Surgeon in Colorado

The Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence provides comprehensive orthopedic care to our patients. Our orthopedic physicians treat musculoskeletal conditions, diseases, and injuries of all kinds.

If you suspect that you have a shoulder condition or any other type of orthopedic issue, call us at (719) 623-1050 today to make an appointment. You can also request an appointment online now. We look forward to helping you enjoy a more active, pain-free lifestyle again.

Five Things That Can Help Strengthen a Weak Shoulder

The shoulder is the most pliable joint in the body – but that also makes it extremely vulnerable to injury. Its wide range of motion allows us to do everything from lifting groceries to swinging a tennis racket, and that’s why shoulders are especially prone to overuse trauma, injury, and general wear-and-tear due to time and use.

We rarely consider our rotator cuff until something happens.  And for the 2 million Americans in 2013 who visited their doctors for shoulder injury, prevention came too late.  Here are five things you can do to strengthen a weak shoulder:

Posture

For most Americans, time spent hunched over a desk or bending forward to monitor your smartphone has become a societal norm.  Slouching and slumping can trigger postural abnormalities that weaken shoulders and leave you susceptible to persistent neck, back and shoulder pain.  Try to focus on sitting up straight, setting up an ergonomic work environment, and lifting your smartphone to eye level.

Flexibility

You may not believe in karma, but Yogis sure have one thing figured out – flexibility. The key to loosening tight necks and backs, and strengthening those feeble shoulder muscles just may be a bit of old-fashioned stretching.  Stretching the pectoral muscles of the chest will increase your range of motion without putting undue pressure on the shoulders. Try your hand at yoga, stretching, or Pilates that focus on core and side flank strength.

Exercises

When it comes to mobility, coordination, and stability, the importance of the scapular muscles cannot be overstated. The lower scapular muscles, which include the rhomboids and lower trapezius, can be exercised and strengthened in a variety of ways. In fact, many effective exercises can be done without even standing up!  Try shoulder blade squeezes are beneficial and require no weights; simply sit (or stand) up straight with your arms in a goal post position, squeeze your shoulder blades together, hold for at least three seconds, and release. Shrugs (which are exactly what they sound like) are a trapezius-boosting movement. If you’re looking to increase the difficulty, try holding light weights in your hands. A healthy trapezius is paramount for maintaining balance. Experiment with exercises that target your shoulders from myriad angles.

Get Evaluated

While you might have been too aggressive at your weekend softball game, more often shoulder injuries occur over time due to bad habits and repetitive behaviors.  Consider a visit to your physical therapist or chiropractor for an evaluation before the problem becomes worse.  They might be able to pinpoint habits or concerns that have been built into your muscle memory.  Athletes should consider meeting with a personal trainer, attending a skills clinic or meeting with expert coach to evaluate stroke, gait, pull or swing.  Sometimes lowering your elbow an inch or chocking up on the bat might be enough to prevent injury.

Wrap it Up

There is no way you can wrap a shoulder as you could with, say, your knee or ankle.  But simple tools like kinesiology tape (KT tape) applied skillfully can secure muscles and prevent extraneous movement.  Icing, rest and anti-inflammatories, as well as Epsom soaks can help prevent further damage to sore shoulders.  

Often ignored, shoulders are nothing to shrug off!  Who better knows this than Dr. David Weinstein of the Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence. Dr. Weinstein is a fellowship-trained orthopedic shoulder and elbow specialist who is dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of shoulder and elbow conditions. He and his expert staff provide many options for minimally invasive measures including cryotherapy, joint injections, and anti-inflammatory medication. Isn’t it time you gave pain the cold shoulder? Call 719-623-1050 today.

Causes of Shoulder Pain

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:

  •       Dislocation
  •       Separation
  •       Rotator cuff disease
  •       Rotator cuff tear
  •       Frozen shoulder
  •       Fracture
  •       Arthritis

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.

Hip Pain, Shoulder Pain and Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes aches and pain all over the body. People with fibromyalgia also have “tender points” throughout their bodies. Tender points are specific places on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs that hurt when pressure is put on them.

Fibromyalgia affects as many as five million Americans ages 18 and older. Most people with fibromyalgia are women (about 80 – 90 percent). However, men and children also can have the disorder. Most people are diagnosed during middle age. Fibromyalgia can occur by itself, but people with certain other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other types of arthritis, may be more likely to have it. Individuals who have a close relative with fibromyalgia are also more likely to develop it themselves.

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

  • The causes of fibromyalgia are not yet known. Researchers think a number of factors might be involved. Fibromyalgia can occur on its own, but has also been linked to:
  • Having a family history of fibromyalgia
  • Being exposed to stressful or traumatic events, such as:
  • Car accidents
  • Injuries to the body caused by performing the same action over and over again (called “repetitive” injuries)
  • Infections or illnesses

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

People with fibromyalgia often see many doctors before being diagnosed. One reason for this may be that pain and fatigue, the main symptoms of fibromyalgia, also are symptoms of many other conditions. Therefore, doctors often must rule out other possible causes of these symptoms before diagnosing fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia cannot be found by a lab test. A doctor who knows about fibromyalgia, however, can make a diagnosis based upon two criteria:

  1. A history of widespread pain lasting more than 3 months. Pain must be present in both the right and left sides of the body as well as above and below the waist.
  2. Presence of tender points. The body has 18 sites that are possible tender points. For fibromyalgia diagnosis, a person must have 11 or more tender points. For a point to be “tender,” the patient must feel pain when pressure is put on the site. People who have fibromyalgia may feel pain at other sites, too, but those 18 sites on the body are used for diagnosis.

How is Fibromyalgia Treated?

Fibromyalgia can be hard to treat. It’s important to find a doctor who has treated others with fibromyalgia. Many family doctors, general internists, or rheumatologists can treat fibromyalgia. Rheumatologists are doctors who treat arthritis and other conditions that affect the joints and soft tissues.

Treatment often requires a team approach. The team may include your doctor, a physical therapist, and possibly other health care providers. A pain or rheumatology clinic can be a good place to get treatment. Treatment for fibromyalgia may include the following:

Getting enough sleep: Getting enough sleep and the right kind of sleep can help ease the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia. Most adults need seven to eight hours of “restorative” sleep per night. Restorative sleep leaves you feeling well-rested and ready for your day to start when you wake up. It is hard for people with fibromyalgia to get a good night’s sleep. It is important to discuss any sleep problems with your doctor, who can then recommend proper treatment.

Exercising: Although pain and fatigue may make exercise and daily activities difficult, it is crucial to be as physically active as possible. Research has repeatedly shown that regular exercise is one of the most effective treatments for fibromyalgia. People who have too much pain or fatigue to do hard exercise should just begin to move more and become more active in routine daily activities. They can begin with walking (or other gentle exercise) and build their endurance and intensity slowly.

Eating well: Although some people with fibromyalgia report feeling better when they eat or avoid certain foods, no specific diet has been proven to influence fibromyalgia. Of course, it is important to have a healthy, balanced diet. Not only will proper nutrition give you more energy and make you generally feel better, it will also help you avoid other health problems.

Pain management: Three medicines have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat fibromyalgia. These are pregabalin (Lyrica), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and milnacipran (Savella). Other medications are being developed and may also receive FDA approval in the future. Your doctor may also suggest non-narcotic pain relievers, low-dose antidepressants, or other classes of medications that might help improve certain symptoms.

Other treatments: Complementary therapies may help you. Talk to your physician before trying any alternative treatments. These include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Massage
  • Myofascial release therapy
  • Water therapy
  • Light aerobics
  • Acupressure
  • Applying heat or cold
  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Breathing techniques
  • Aromatherapy
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Nutritional supplements

To learn more information about fibromyalgia, and if you may have it, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050, or request an appointment online.