One of the most complex parts of the body is the shoulder, and when the single component of the shoulder is not working well, it results in pains and dysfunction.
Injuries that affect the shoulder are common, but it does not make them less painful or uncomfortable. The hands are like puppets and the shoulder master the puppet. Any activities you want to do with your hands regardless of whether brushing your hair, throwing balls or scratching your back, the shoulders provide support and ease the motion.
The shoulders are composed of several bones, muscles, and tendons. The main function of the shoulder is to provide your hand with a wide range of movements.
Common Shoulder Injuries & Conditions
Majority of the problems with shoulder pain involve muscles, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons. Most especially, athletes and skilled workers are particularly vulnerable to shoulder blade pain or shoulder joint pain. Due to recurring and intense routines, shoulder pains can grow over time.
Tendonitis and Bursitis
These are inflammatory conditions that are responsible for the most common shoulder pain and shoulder stiffness. They can be the result of recurring movements, such as sport, or serious and sudden injuries. This condition is more common in adults over the age of 40 because the tendons are age-related and are more prone to injure them. The inflammation or irritation of the rotator cuff in the tendons causes shoulder pain.
Bursitis, on the other hand, occurs as a result of inflammation or irritation of the fluid-filled sac protecting the space between the tendons and bones.
The most important things in the treatment of Tendonitis and bursitis include pain reduction and inflammation. Relaxation is recommended; hot and cold compression and splint are also recommended. If these treatments fail, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids injections, recommend physiotherapy and, in the most serious cases, surgery can be the best choice.
Inflammation in the joints which results in pains and stiffness is known as arthritis. There are two shoulder joints which can be affected by arthritis. One of this is the meeting point between the collarbone and the tip of the shoulder blade. The second is where the upper arm bone fits into the shoulder blade. Arthritis can occur as a result of "wear-and-tear" (osteoarthritis), autoimmune disease (rheumatoid arthritis), or before the injury - including bone fractures, rotator cuff tear or dislocation of the shoulder.
Arthritis can be treated using the following methods:
- Resting of the shoulder
- Perform some forms of exercises and/or physiotherapy
- Taking anti-inflammatory drugs (non-steroid)
- performing joint replacement surgery
A frozen shoulder occurs as a result of thickening and contraction of the capsule of connective tissue which surrounds the shoulder which results to stiffness and pains on the shoulder from restricted movement.
Frozen shoulder usually affects adults between the age of 40 to 60 and can occur as a result of diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Parkinson's disease, and heart disease. It can also occur after long-lasting immobilization of the shoulders after the injury, which is why an essential part of the shoulder recovery is physical therapy.
The use of anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy is the best way to treat a frozen shoulder, which has been proved to be effective in 90 percent of cases. For people that do not experience relief within the period of for two to three years, surgery can be the best alternative.
When the head of the upper arm bone is partially forced out of the shoulder socket as a result of excessive use or injury, it can result to shoulder instability. It can react like a "slipping" or "catching" feeling in your shoulder. In case the bone comes out completely from the socket, it is referred to as dislocation, which is very painful. Unluckily, immediately the ligaments, tendons, and muscles around the shoulders become loose or torn apart, you are likely to have repeated dislocations.
The doctor needs to return the arm bone into the shoulder socket. Once treated, you will probably put on a sling for a few weeks. For recurrent dislocations, shoulder operation may be necessary.
Fractures (broken bones) of the shoulder generally affect the clavicle (collarbone), the humerus (bone of the upper arm), and the scapula (known as the shoulder blade). They cause severe pain, swelling and bruising around your shoulders and may occur as a result of sudden injuries such as a fall or accidents from motorcycles.
You will often have to put on a sling or "figure 8" strap for three to eight weeks. Surgery may be important in case it is not a "clean break". Plates, screws or wires may be required during the operation.
There is a kind of confusion between shoulder separation and shoulder dislocation but both are entirely different forms of injuries. Interruption of the connection between the shoulder blade and collarbone leads to shoulder separation. A shoulder separation occurs immediately after a fall onto the shoulder this is common in sports.
Symptoms depend on how serious the separation is, but most of them still involve severe pain in the shoulder, swelling, bruising, and sometimes deformation.
The severity of the injury plays an important role in the treatment of shoulder separation. A shoulder separation is categorized by doctors into six levels. Depending on the degree of severity of separation, the treatment may range from rest, ice, and a sling to surgical procedures.
Rotator Cuff Tear
The common cause of shoulder pain and disability in elderly is rotator cuff tear and can seriously hinder the performance of many daily activities, such as hair combing or dressing. This type of injury usually results from wearing down of the tendon, which occurs slowly over time but can also occur as a result of sudden trauma.
Some common symptoms of rotator cuff tears include:
- Pain in the arm and shoulder
- Weakness and tenderness in the shoulder
- Restricted area of motion and pain, especially when lifting and lowering the arm
- a feeling of cracking or snapping during the movement of the shoulder
- finding it very difficult to rest or sleep on the affected shoulder because of pain
Most of the treatment options used in the treatment of the rotator cuff tears are usually very traditional: it is recommended to rest, sometimes in a sling, hot/cold application and anti-inflammatory drugs are also recommended. In the most serious cases, the operation is indispensable. Surgeons can do arthroscopic surgery or open a surgical repair.
Since the shoulder joint is movable, dislocation of the bone from the socket can be very easy. The top of the upper arm bone (humerus) can partially or fully come out of the socket (glenoid). These can either be partial which is the partial movement of the bone out of the shoulder joint socket and returned on its own or total where the bone moves out completely from the joint socket and returned back to its normal position by an outside force
Causes & Symptoms
Shoulder dislocation occurs as a result of falls, car accidents and strong contact during sports. Those with a dislocated shoulder may feel swelling, stiffness, weakness, bruising, pain, instability, and even muscle cramping.
For the treatment of the dislocated shoulder, the doctor uses a procedure called a closed reduction that returns the upper arm back to the socket. Pain relieving is almost immediate. Doctors generally recommend that after the treatment of the shoulders, the shoulder should be immobilized in a sling or other device for few weeks.
Further information on Common Shoulder Pain - Contact Simon Evans Physiotherapy based in Solihull