Shoulder pain is one of the most common reasons people find themselves seeking orthopedic care in Kansas City.
The shoulder is a complex joint with wide range of motion. This makes it susceptible to injury. From an acute injury related to trauma to simple wear and tear over time, shoulder pain is something many will deal with throughout their life. In this post, we will discuss the basic anatomy of the shoulder as well as some of the most common diagnoses associated with shoulder pain. We will also review some at home treatments and discuss issues that might suggest obtaining evaluation by an orthopedist.
Understanding the Should & Should Pain
The shoulder is described as a complex joint. It functions in multiple planes of motion through a complex array of muscular attachments. Although it is not truly a weight bearing joint, we use our shoulders constantly for simple everyday tasks. There are multiple structures that make up the complex shoulder joint.
The humerus (the long arm bone), the scapula (the shoulder blade) , the clavicle (the collarbone) .
Each of these bones are partially covered with cartilage. Articular cartilage is made of collagen that forms an ultra smooth surface to allow our joints to move smoothly with limited friction.
Ligaments are soft tissue structures composed of collagen that attach bone to bone and help stabilize joints. In the shoulder, the superior, middle, and inferior glenohumeral ligaments stabilize the glenohumeral (ball-and-socket) articulation. There are also ligaments that function to stabilize the acromioclavicular (between the collarbone and tip of the shoulder blade) joint.
Tendons attach muscle to bone and also help stabilize the shoulder by working in muscular concert. The main tendons of the shoulder are the rotator cuff tendons. There are four rotator cuff tendons surrounding the glenohumeral joint.
All of these structures are susceptible to injury or wear and tear over time. Among the most common injuries are fractures, dislocations, rotator cuff injury, labral injury, and arthritis. Fractures include any break in the bone and are usually associated with a major trauma. Signs and symptoms of a fracture include pain, swelling, and limited use / stiffness.
Rotator cuff injuries are some of the most common injuries involving the shoulder. These usually occur via trauma or due to age-related degeneration of the tendons. The supraspinatus tendon is the most commonly injured tendon of the rotator cuff. Tendon injury can range from inflammation to complete tear. Signs and symptoms of rotator cuff injury are shoulder pain, difficulty with overhead motion, weakness, nighttime pain, and radiating pain into the upper arm and neck.
Shoulder Pain Treatment
Fortunately, many treatments are available for shoulder pain.
In most cases, non-surgical treatment can provide significant relief from symptoms and in return of function.
Rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication are excellent treatment options as initial management.
If symptoms fail to improve with at home treatment, I would recommend scheduling an appointment with one of our qualified orthopedic doctors for further evaluation.