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Common Shoulder Injuries

Common Shoulder Injuries Affect Almost Everyone

No matter what sports team you follow during off season or playoff time, there’s almost always an athlete making news with a shoulder injury. In fact, rotator cuff injuries are the most common upper extremity problem reported by recreational and professional athletes, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

Other shoulder injuries frequently seen by orthopedic specialists include:

  • Fractures of the clavicle, humerus, and scapula
  • Dislocated shoulder
  • Torn ligaments and tendons
  • Shoulder impingement
  • Joint separation
  • Torn shoulder joint (glenoid labrum)
  • SLAP tear
  • Minor sprains and strains

Most shoulder injuries do damage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The common cause is strenuous repetitive motion. Orthopedic doctors advise patients to be aware of shoulder pain and typical warning signs of shoulder injury such as weakness, joint misalignment, stiffness, or limited mobility.

Rotator Cuff Holds the Shoulder Joint Together

The shoulder relies on a group of four muscles to form tendons anchoring it to its shallow ball-and-socket shoulder joint. That anchoring structure, or rotator cuff, enables the shoulder to glide smoothly as you move your arm. A jarring shoulder injury can strain or even tear the rotator cuff.

With continued movement or a degenerative condition, the rotator cuff injury may become progressively worse. For example a partial rotator cuff tear may worsen to become a full-thickness rotator cuff tear. Other known causes of shoulder pain from rotator cuff problems could include repetitive stress, restricted blood flow, bone spurs, heavy lifting, aging, or falls. Additionally, in the narrowed space between the top of the shoulder bone and the rotator cuff starts to narrow, forcing the bone to rub against tendons and bursa. Damage to the bursa sac via this shoulder impingement can lead to chronic shoulder pain and irritation.

Broken Collarbones Top List of Shoulder Fractures

There are only three bones in the shoulder – the scapula/shoulder blade, humerus/upper arm, and the clavicle/collarbone – but the collarbone seems to be most susceptible to fracture. The clavicle is a comparatively thin bone stretching from shoulder to shoulder in a vulnerable location on the body. Contact sports frequently involve clavicle fractures, but the average person can break a collarbone doing something as mundane as falling out of bed or having a car accident. In other cases, a broken shoulder may refer to fractures of the shoulder b lade or the upper arm bone.

What Are Symptoms of a Dislocated Shoulder?

Just as the shoulder is capable of great flexibility and range of motion, it also has the potential to move out of alignment. Dislocation of the shoulder joint may mean the head of the upper arm bone is partially out of the socket, or it may have completely popped out of the shoulder joint. Prompt action can pop the shoulder joint back into place, but the dislocation often leaves behind swelling, numbness, weakness, or bruising. A traumatic dislocation has the potential to tear ligaments and tendons or damage nerves in the shoulder.

Another joint injury diagnosed and treated by orthopedic specialists in Arlington is known as separated shoulder, but this shoulder injury affects the nearby acromioclavicular (AC) joint where the top of the shoulder blade touches the collarbone. Impact from a fall or tackle directly on the shoulder serves to separate the AC joint from its
proper position. Ligaments may simply be sprained or they may be completely torn away from the collarbone and acromion. Pain and a visible deformation result with varying degrees of severity.

Orthopedic sports medicine specialists also see a large number of biceps tendon tears in relation to shoulder injury. This impacts the area where the biceps tendon latches onto the ring of cartilage (labrum) surrounding the shoulder socket. This type of shoulder condition is called a SLAP tear, which refers to the superior labrum anterior and posterior.

This injury can be caused by falling on an outstretched arm, a car accident, straining to catch a heavy object, sudden jerking motion of the arm above the shoulder and shoulder dislocation. Athletes with SLAP injuries are often involved in sports requiring overhead arm motion as in pitching, throwing, or weightlifting.

Your orthopedic specialist can discuss a wide range of pain management, physical therapy, and shoulder surgery options to treat all of these common shoulder injuries.

Resolve Shoulder Pain With Orthopedic Care

Shoulder pain, whether from a sports injury or an accident, may not simply go away on its own. Consult an orthopedic specialist to properly diagnose and recommend a comprehensive shoulder treatment plan.

Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at Arlington offers a 24-hour orthopedic and spine emergency department when you need help right away, or you may call 855-41-ORTHO to set up an appointment to address all your shoulder pain.