The shoulder is one of the body’s biggest joints. It consists of three different bones, being the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (wing bone), and the humerus (upper arm bone). Meanwhile, the shoulder ball fits into the glenoid, which is the small socket. It is surrounded by labrum, which is a lip of soft cartilage, and this makes the socket deeper. Meanwhile, the acromion (top part of the wing bone) hands over the full joint of the shoulder. The acromion is attached to the clavicle through tendons, and this forms the acromioclavicular joint, or AC joint. And then, there is the rotator cuff, which are the tendons and muscles that keep the scapula and the humerus together, so that the arm can lift up. Last but not least, the shoulder contains a burse (a sack of fluid), which is between the acromion and the rotator cuff. This allows for smooth movement. James P DeVellis, a local orthopedic surgeon, wants people to have a greater understanding of common shoulder problems, so they can help avoid them as well.
Common Shoulder Conditions
The list of shoulder conditions is almost endless. They include:
- Impingement syndrome, which in turn can cause tendonitis and bursitis. It happens when the bursa or tendons are squeezed below the acromion. This usually happens as a result of muscle weakness, repetitive overhead lifting, injury, and bone spurs. Often, the pain becomes noticeable with overhead movement, or when sleeping on the joint. Medication and exercise is usually effective, although voluntarily undergoing arthroscopic surgery can also be needed.
- Partial rotator cuff tears, which usually happen when there is continuous misconduct in how the joint is used. Often, arthroscopic surgery is required in order to remove any bone spurs and repair the cuff itself. Treatment is required, as it would otherwise progress into a full tear.
- Complete rotator cuff tears, which happen after untreated partial tears. Usually, full surgery is required, although there are now some allegations in the news that other forms of treatment may also be beneficial.
- Instability and dislocations, which happen when the humeral head falls out of the glenoid. This often happens after a sudden injury, although overuse may also be the cause. If someone has a dislocation when they are young, there is a 75% to 90% chance of recurrence. Hence, surgery is usually offered if the patient is younger than 25, in an effort to avoid recurrence. If the patient is somewhat of an older fox, however, simply putting the joint back into place may be sufficient, followed by physical therapy.
- Labral tears, which often happen due to acute trauma, although some repetitive overhead movements may also cause it. The labrum is a lip of cartilage that ensures the socket is deep enough to keep the ball in place. If it tears off, the shoulder will lock, click, catch, and hurt. Arthroscopic surgery is usually sufficient to repair it.
- SLAP tear, which is a labral tear to the socket’s top. This often results in the arm having a “Popeye” appearance.
- Shoulder separations, which is different from dislocation. Wearing a sling is usually sufficient to repair it.
- Frozen shoulders, which happen when people stop using their shoulder, either because they genuinely can’t move it, or if moving it hurts too much. Physical therapy can usually resolve this.
- Osteoarthritis, whereby the joint can become fully destroyed. Painkillers and physical therapy is usually effective for some time, but a full replacement will generally be required eventually.