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Shoulder Injuries

Written by Dr.Mary

Shoulder injury is a common problem and is a usual asked condition by patients. In a survey conducted in the year 2006, about 7.5 million people have visited their doctor because of a shoulder problem. According to reports, the usual cause of this malady is athletic activities that involve excessive motions and bearing activities. One should know what the warning signs of a shoulder injury are:

  • Assess if the shoulder is stiff. Is arm rotation possible?
  • Does the shoulder feel like sliding out of its socket?
  • Strength depletion is noted.

One should also take note shoulder injuries include the affectation of three bone components: clavicle, scapula and the humerus. These are commonly known as the collarbone, shoulder blade and the upper arm bone respectively. The common causes of this condition include:


This occurs when the shoulder joints moves out of its normal position. The patient would usually verbalize that their shoulder seems to be slipping out of its place.


This is caused by excessive rubbing of the shoulder muscles. Overhead motion is a common cause of this condition that can lead to a serious injury.

Common Shoulder Injuries

AC joint separation or the acromioclavicular joint

The condition is related to the separation of the two bones forming the acromioclavicular joint. The ligaments connecting them are said to be damaged, that is why the state is possible. This is also referred as the shoulder separation injury.

Dislocated shoulder

A very common traumatic injury that is a usual result of a wide range of sports activities. The head of the upper arm bone is forced forward when the arm is turned outwards. Because of the high mobility of the shoulder, it can result to easy instability and injury.

Impingement syndrome

This is also referred as Swimmer’s shoulder or Thrower’s shoulder. This is caused by the tendons of the rotator cuff to become impinged from the acromion.

Frozen shoulder

The medical term for this condition is adhesive capsulitis. This usually occurs on one specific side. But take note, the condition can spread to the other shoulder too. The condition is due to capsulitis, an inflammation of the joint capsule. The primary cause of the condition is trauma, surgery or illness.

Rotator cuff injury

The condition is possible because of a lot of shoulder rotation. Sports activities are common causes of this condition. The mechanism of the condition is acute and chronic tear. First, the condition can be a result of a sudden, powerful movement. The chronic state can develop over a period of time and result to a more serious problem.

Types of Shoulder Injuries

The shoulder is supported by our muscles, tendons and ligaments. A fracture or injury of these supports can lead to injury, that’s why we need to be careful in performing movements of the shoulder. It is believed that one is prone to such condition when a person has been experiencing consistently some joint weakness, inflammation and pain. Here are the following types of shoulder injuries:


The rotator cuff tears occur as one ages. Over use of the muscles can tear the muscle surrounding or supporting our shoulder. An injury can cause the present condition too. It has been noted that most rotator cuff problems are treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and with gentle exercises.


The state occurs when the rotator cuff and the acromion bone becomes narrowed, resulting for tendons to move freely.


Overhead movements are the common cause of this condition. Sports such as baseball, basketball, football, tennis, swimming and volleyball are common causes of this condition.



This is also referred as dislocation. Because of instability, the person affected can have overstretching of the muscles and tendons thus resulting to loosening of the bone from its ball and socket. Full dislocation can also occur when there is serious trauma.


The collarbone is a common injury area when it comes to contact sports.

Shoulder Injuries Symptoms

There are specific characteristics of the shoulder injuries. But when the presenting symptoms are compared with each other, they can be identified as similar or can be grouped in general. Here are the following symptoms of the injury:

  • Pain at the end of the collar bone is a common manifestation
  • Pain may radiate from the shoulder to the back
  • Pain upon movement is a common sensation or complaint.
  • Pain may also be described as pins and needles. Sometimes numbness may be experienced.
  • Pain is felt when one is to lift things.
  • Swelling may occur.
  • Step-deformity may be visible. This is a lump where the joint has been disrupted and is made visible, depending on the severity.
  • Stiffening can start as the case may be frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis. It has been reported that the condition can last up to 5 to 12 months, depending on the severity.

Shoulder Injuries Diagnosis

Diagnostic exam of the condition is very much necessary in order to identify the proper treatment for the condition. Here are the following tests to perform for shoulder injuries:

Physical examination

This includes assessment of pain, location and limits of movement and extent of dislocation.

Radiologic exam

X-rays can identify underlying conditions.

Ultrasound and MRI

Ultrasound and MRI are helpful tests for this condition.


This is an image test that uses contrast fluid to assist in the visualization of the underlying problem or current problem.

Shoulder Injuries Treatment

Physical treatment or assistance is the first stop for the treating a shoulder injury. As the condition has been detected here are some of the steps to consider in avoiding serious problems from the shoulder injury:

Shoulder exercises

These exercises are aimed in the strengthening of the shoulder muscles. These would include basic shoulder strengthening, such as attaching elastic tubing to a doorknob at home then gently pulling the elastic tubing toward one’s body. Wall push-ups should be done twice a day. Shoulder press-ups are done by sitting upright in a chair with an armrest. Use the arms to slowly rise off the chair and perform twice a day.


Taking of anti inflammatory drugs is necessary to reduce the pain and swelling that the person affected is experiencing. NSAIDs are provided for patients.

Bed rest

Rest is necessary to regain the lost energy from the injury.

Apply ice or cold pack

The area affected is painful. The use of cold compress can reduce the swelling and discomfort.

Physical or occupation therapy

Sometimes, those who had shoulder injuries have altered physical capabilities because of the injury. In order to return to the normal capacity, attendance to a physical or occupation therapy is a must.

Surgical intervention is a last resort

This is only applicable to worst case scenarios.

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