Most shoulder injuries are not related to broken bones. The most common issues are damage to the ligaments, tendons, or cartilage. Many shoulder injuries are caused not by singular events but long-term repetitive motions.
Rotator cuff tears and tendonitis are among the most common cause of shoulder pain. Other common shoulder injuries include impingement syndrome, labrum tears, biceps tendonitis, and osteoarthritis.
Minor shoulder injuries can often be treated at home through rest, application of ice treatments, and over the counter pain medication. However, if issues persist or are accompanied by more severe symptoms such as bruising, swelling, difficulty with motion, or joint tenderness a doctor visit is advisable.
Rotator cuff injuries are common and affect over four million people every year. The rotator cuff is a collection of four tendons that connect the upper arm bone to the shoulder joint. A torn rotator cuff tears can be partial or full thickness tears. Rotator cuff tears can be caused by a sudden trauma or a gradual degeneration over time.
A rotator cuff injury may be treatable without surgery. Commonly doctors advise rest, not to overuse the joint, nonprescription pain medication such as ibuprofen, strengthening workouts, physical therapy, and in situations where the pain is ongoing steroid injections to reduce inflammation. In situations where the injury does not heal (symptoms continue for six months to a year), the tear to the rotator cuff is large, or there is a notable loss of function surgery may be recommended. Rotator cuff surgery involves reattaching the tendon to the upper arm bone (humerus) where it usually connects.
Shoulder tendonitis is inflammation of the shoulder joint tendons causing pain. This irritation can be caused by minor injuries, overworking the shoulder, or repetitive actions. It is an ailment often reported by athletes or those who perform repetitive physical labor. This inflammation can lead to swelling, a reduced range of motion, and pain when at rest or performing activities.
Treatment methods include both nonsurgical and surgical solutions. Advised nonsurgical methods include rest, reduced activity, nonprescription anti-inflammatory pain medication such as ibuprofen, physical therapy, and injections of anesthetic and cortisone to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Surgery may be advised in more severe cases. In arthroscopic surgery bone and soft tissue is removed to give the rotator cuff more room to move reducing inflammation. Arthroscopic surgery makes use of small puncture wounds and cameras and is a less invasive form of surgery. Traditional open surgery may be performed as well where an incision is made, and the tendons are directly operated on. After surgery, rest and rehabilitation follow to strengthen the joint.
As noted above surgery is often a solution for shoulder injuries that cannot heal on their own. In addition to rotator cuff repair surgery, common shoulder surgeries also include shoulder stabilization for shoulder instability, shoulder replacements for arthritis, and shoulder decompressions for impingement.
Severe impingement or tendinitis can result in a tearing of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is a network of muscles and tendons that attaches the upper arm to the shoulder blade. When these muscles and tendons are damaged or inflamed, it can become painful. Treatment follows a conservative approach for impingement with further diagnostic testing such as MRI if indicated. A discussion of the risks, benefits and alternatives of rotator cuff tear treatment helps the patient decide if they want non-operative treatment, open repair or arthroscopic repair for the rotator cuff.
Shoulder pain is no fun which is why we want to get you back to moving more and hurting less. As leaders in assessing, diagnosing and treating shoulder injuries, our team of shoulder experts will provide a treatment plan centered around you. Take the first step towards living without shoulder pain by scheduling an appointment today.
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