Shoulder pain affects 18-26% of adults at any given point in their lifetime. What is the Shoulder? Ok, of course, you know where your shoulder is, but how much do you know about the anatomy of the shoulder and common shoulder injuries?
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. It is a relatively shallow joint which means it has a huge range of motion and flexibility. Did you know the shoulder is the most mobile joint of the body? This flexibility and range of motion have a downside, though- it can mean the shoulder is exceptionally prone to injury.
Not sure what part of your shoulder is causing you pain? Check our guide on different types of shoulder injuries below.
What Is a Frozen Shoulder?
The shoulder is made up of three bones; the clavicle (collar bone), scapula (shoulder blade), and humerus (upper arm). As well as the bones, the shoulder has muscles, tendons (the soft tissue that connects muscle to bone), and ligaments (the soft tissue that connects bone to bone).
If the tissue around your shoulder joint becomes inflamed, it can cause shoulder pain. This pain is commonly referred to as a frozen shoulder. The tissue shrinks, which can cause dull, deep pain. This pain can make it difficult to move your shoulder back and forward, which is why the injury is referred to as a ‘frozen shoulder.’
A frozen shoulder is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain, but there is no clear evidence to show what causes a frozen shoulder. It mostly affects those around the age of 50 and could be caused by an old injury that did not flare up when it happened.
Gentle movements and physiotherapy can help to relieve the pain caused by a frozen shoulder in the early stages, but sometimes this is not enough. A frozen shoulder can take several months to heal.
What Is a Sprained Shoulder?
If any of the ligaments that connect the three bones in your shoulder become overstretched, this is a sprain. At worst, a sprained shoulder can cause the bones in the joint to dislocate from one another. At best, you have a minor sprain that you will quickly recover from.
One of the most common causes of a sprained shoulder is excessive pressure being put on the ligaments around the joint. This can occur if you fall, for example, and put your arm out to cushion the fall.
If you have a sprained shoulder, your doctor will grade the sprain on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the least severe and 5 the most severe. The treatment you require for a shoulder sprain will depend on the severity of the sprain and whether the ligament is ripped or torn.
What Is a Rotator Cuff Tear?
The rotator cuff is the name given to the four major muscles and tendons in the shoulder. We use the rotator cuff to raise and rotate the shoulder joint.
Damage to the rotator cuff is one of the most common shoulder injuries. It can happen when one of the ligaments is damaged. As we age, our rotator cuff can become weaker. This can lead to an increased chance of injury.
Rotator cuff damage is also one of the most common shoulder injuries from sports. Repetitive movement and overuse can cause the shoulder cuff to become injured. Pain from a rotator cuff injury can make it difficult to lift your arms overhead and cause pain in the upper arm and the shoulder.
What Is a Shoulder Impingement?
If the muscles around the shoulder excessively rub on the nearby tissue or the bones of the shoulder, it can cause shoulder impingement. Shoulder impingement can cause pain in the top or outside of your shoulder, as well as pain when you lift your arm up.
You may feel pain and swelling in the front of the shoulder if you have a shoulder impingement.
How to Prevent Common Shoulder Injuries
Preventing shoulder injury is possible. There are precautions you can take to try and stop a shoulder injury inhibiting your life. If you can take these preventative measures, you could prevent shoulder injuries from occurring.
1. Warm-up Before Participating in Sports
If you don’t warm up, you are more prone to injury—an insufficient warm-up causes many sports injuries. Make sure you move the joints you are going to be using for your activity before you start.
2. Don’t Overtrain
Overuse or overtraining can lead to injury. Make sure you schedule rest days if you are an active person. Try to avoid repetitive movements, such as lifting heavy things, every day of the week.
3. Do Some Strength Training
If you build strength in the muscles around the shoulders (the rotator cuff) you are less likely to sustain an injury. This can be anything from consistent weekly movement such as yoga to some push-ups against the wall. Always consult a physician before taking up a new exercise regime. But remember, building strength can be one of the best ways to prevent an injury!
Treatment for Common Shoulder Injuries
As you have learned, there are differences between common shoulder injuries. Each injury should receive slightly different treatment. Always consult a professional if you think you have a shoulder injury. They will be able to advise on the best treatment.
Treatments for shoulder injuries include; physiotherapy and gentle exercises to get the joint back to its original functions. Pain killers, rest, and platelet-rich plasma therapy are also all options to treat common shoulder injuries.
If your injury is very severe, your physician may recommend surgery, but this is usually only for extreme cases. You should now have more clarity on how different shoulder injuries are caused.
Need help with diagnosing your shoulder injury? Give our office a call, we’d be happy to help you.