We rely on our shoulders for so many activities – playing catch, brushing our hair, lifting a box, or pushing the lawnmower. In fact, the shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body. However, because of its flexibility, it is not very stable and is susceptible to injuries. Let’s take a look at the anatomy of the shoulder and the most common shoulder injuries.
Anatomy of the Shoulder
At the shoulder, three main bones meet:
- • Clavicle (collarbone)
- • Scapula (shoulder blade)
- • Humerus (upper arm bone)
And, each joint is surrounded by:
- • Cartilage
- • Ligaments
- • Muscles
- • Tendons
Common Shoulder Injuries
Because shoulders have a wide range of motion and frequently used, they are commonly injured. A good portion of shoulder issues tend to involve the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as opposed to the actual bone. Common shoulder injuries include:
- • Dislocation – A dislocated shoulder is when the upper arm bone pops out of the socket that’s part of the shoulder blade. In most cases, the joint will be visibly deformed, swollen, bruised, in pain, and unable to move. This injury is frequently seen in contact sports, car accidents, and falls.
- • Arthritis – Arthritis is one of the most common conditions that causes wear and tear to your joint cartilage, and it’s something that develops after years of constant motion and pressure on the joints. There are several non-surgical interventions, such as medication and physical therapy – however, if those fail to provide relief, shoulder replacement surgery might be your next step.
- • Rotator cuff tear – The rotator cuff is comprised of a group of muscles and tendons that hold the bones of the shoulder joint together. The cuff itself provides you with the ability to lift your arms and reach overhead, but when repetitive or overexerted can result in injury. Age, construction jobs, and family history all increase your risk of having rotator cuff problems. Unfortunately, when the rotator cuff is injured, achieving full mobility without pain can be a challenge.
- • Fractured clavicle – The clavicle (collarbone) connects the upper part of your breast bone to your shoulder blade. This bone is one of the most fractured bones in the body, and this injury is particularly common for children and young adults. A fractured clavicle will have severe pain, swelling, and be visibly deformed. It’s frequently caused by falls, sports injuries, and car accidents.
- • Fractured scapula – Fractures of the scapula (shoulder blade) are relatively less common and many of them can be treated without surgery. It’s commonly caused by car accidents or hard falls. The symptoms of a scapula fracture are pain when moving the arm or swelling around the back of the shoulder; however, this injury can often lead to other injuries in the chest, lungs, and internal organs. As a result, it’s extremely important to visit your doctor if you’re experiencing shoulder pain with these symptoms.
If you’re at a point where you’re experiencing shoulder pain, ask yourself the following:
1. Is your shoulder stiff?
2. Can you rotate your arm in all the normal positions?
3. Do you have pain when reaching overhead or when trying to sleep on your shoulder?
4. Do you feel as though you lack the strength in your shoulder to carry out your daily activities?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of the above, a visit to the doctor might be in order to determine the extent and severity of the problem. The physicians here at Prairie Orthopaedic & Plastic Surgery, PC in Lincoln, NE have both the skills and knowledge to get you back to your everyday routine in no time. To schedule an appointment, please call us at 402-489-4700!