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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.

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.

What Does a Hurt Shoulder mean?

The shoulder is an elegant piece of machinery. It happens to have the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. However, this large range of motion can cause the shoulder to become unstable, leading to joint problems and the site of multiple injuries. Your shoulder joint is composed of four joints, over 30 muscles and 6 major ligaments, and three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone).  An edge of the scapula, called the acromion, forms the top of the shoulder.

Understanding how the different layers of the shoulder are built and connected can help someone understand how the shoulder works, how it can become injured, and how challenging recovery can be when injuries occur. As you can see, the shoulder is extremely complex. When you realize all the different ways and positions we use our hands and shoulders every day, it is easy to understand how they are highly vulnerable to injury and how hard daily life can be when the shoulder isn’t working well.

The most common type of shoulder injuries involves chronic shoulder pain, rotator cuff tears, total shoulder replacement, and shoulder impingement syndrome. Most problems in the shoulder involve the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, rather than the bones. Arthritis, injury, and repetitive motions such as those used during sports or work-related activities are leading causes of shoulder or elbow pain, stiffness, and restriction of movement.

However shoulder trouble happens, you should take it seriously. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, too many people try to “play through the pain,” often turning a minor annoyance into a serious injury. If your shoulder feels stiff and you can’t move your arm normally, or if your shoulder feels weak or ready to pop out of its joint, schedule an appointment with your doctor or an orthopedic specialist. If the pain is intense or you cannot move your arm at all, call your doctor right away.

Here’s a rundown of the most common types of shoulder injuries:

Dislocated shoulder:

When the head of your upper-arm bone (the humerus) slips partially or completely out of the shoulder joint, you have a dislocated shoulder. This injury can happen any number of ways, from pitching a baseball to falling and landing hard on your shoulder. In any case, the injury is impossible to ignore. Your arm will feel like it’s hanging loose, and the pain will be intense. Dislocations call for immediate medical help. A doctor or other medical professional can push the arm bone back into the shoulder joint, providing dramatic and immediate pain relief. It’s not a good idea to try and pop it back in yourself, as you could easily injure yourself further.

Your shoulder problems aren’t over just because your arm is back in place. You may have to wear a sling for several weeks to rest and protect the joint. You may also have to ice the shoulder three or four times a day to reduce pain and swelling. After the swelling goes down, you can start daily exercises to strengthen your shoulder and reduce the risk of further injuries.

Separated shoulder:

A separated shoulder isn’t the same as a dislocated shoulder, but it can be just as painful. If you have a separated shoulder, the ligaments connecting your shoulder blade to your collarbone have become either strained or torn. Your shoulder will feel loose, and your arm may feel weak or even numb. The pain in your shoulder can be intense, especially if the ligaments are torn. If you only have a mild strain, you may feel moderate pain when you throw a ball or lift your arm.

Injured rotator cuff:

The “rotator cuff” is the collective name for a group of muscles and tendons that connect your upper arm bone to your shoulder blade. The rotator cuff is a vital part of the shoulder. It’s also prone to injury. If you injure or overwork your shoulder by repeatedly throwing a ball or lifting heavy objects, the tendons in the rotator cuff can become inflamed, a condition called tendinitis. In more extreme cases, the tendons and muscles in the rotator cuff can actually tear.

Injury Prevention and treatment:

To avoid injuries to the shoulder, start weightlifting sessions with a brief cardiovascular warm-up, to loosen muscles and joints. Make sure to stretch the upper body after lifting weights to prevent tight muscles and ligaments that are vulnerable to tears and sprains.

You can also prevent future injuries with weight training to strengthen the muscles that connect to your shoulders. Dips and push-ups are good ways to strengthen the whole shoulder girdle. Even abdominal exercises can help to prevent shoulder injuries. Whether you’re pitching a baseball or reaching into a closet, a strong abdominal core supports the torso, providing more overall control.

If your injury is mild or severe, your doctor will recommend daily exercises to start once you’ve recovered. These will help to strengthen your shoulder and prevent future problems.

To find out what is causing your shoulder pain, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 to request an appointment.