Shoulder injuries can be caused by sports activities that involve excessive overhead motion like swimming, tennis, cricket and weightlifting.
People involved in everyday activities like washing walls, hanging curtains, and gardening also can get shoulder injuries due to excessive overhead arm motion.
Athletes are especially susceptible to shoulder problems. A shoulder problem can develop slowly in athletes through repetitive, intensive training routines.
What are the warning signs of a shoulder injury?
If you are experiencing pain in your shoulder ask yourself these questions:
- Is the shoulder stiff? Can you rotate your arm in all the normal positions?
- Does it feel like your shoulder could pop out or slide out of the socket?
- Do you lack the strength in your shoulder to carry out your daily activities?
If you answer "yes" to any one of these questions, you should consult an orthopaedic physician for help in determining the severity of the problem.
What types of shoulder injuries are most prevalent?
Most problems in the shoulder involve the muscles, ligaments, and tendons rather than bones. Orthopaedic surgeons group shoulder problems into the following categories.
- Instability - Sometimes, one of the shoulder joints moves or is forced out of its normal position. This condition is called instability, and can result in a dislocation of one of the joints in the shoulder. Individuals suffering from an instability problem will experience pain when they raise their arm. They also may feel as if their shoulder is slipping out of place.
- Impingement - Impingement is caused by excessive rubbing of the rotator cuff and the top part of your shoulder blade called the acromion. Impingement problems can be sustained when participating in a sports activity that requires excessive overhead motion. If you do not seek medical care for the inflammation in your shoulder, it could eventually lead to a more serious injury.
Why is the rotator cuff so important?
The rotator cuff is one of the most important components of the shoulder. It is comprised of a group of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder joint in place. The rotator cuff provides individuals with the ability to lift their arm and reach overhead. If injured, it can become difficult for people to recover the full shoulder function needed to properly participate in the sports activity.
What causes a shoulder injury to become worse?
Some people will have a tendency to ignore the pain, and "play through" shoulder injuries which only aggravates the condition, and possibly causes more problems. People also may underestimate the extent of the injury because steady pain, weakness in the arm, or limitation of joint motion will become almost second nature to them.
How are shoulder injuries treated?
Early detection is the key to preventing serious shoulder injuries. Many times, orthopaedic surgeons will prescribe a series of exercises aimed at strengthening shoulder muscles. Anti-inflammatory medication also may be prescribed to reduce pain and swelling.
* Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; Shoulder Diagram: Australian Orthopaedic Association
Please remember that medical information provided by Brisbane Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Centre, in the absence of a visit with a physician, must be considered as an educational service only. The information contained in this web site should not be relied upon as a medical consultation. This web site is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgement about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.