Most Common Shoulder Injuries


The shoulder is a ball and socket joint that is designed to handle a lot of movement and resistance. It is used in pushing, pulling and reaching for objects. Because of its involvement in most major movements, the shoulder can be susceptible to injuries. There are several common shoulder injuries.


Shoulder Strains

Shoulder strains are the most common type of shoulder injury. Many shoulder strains occur in the front or anterior head of the deltoid, where the biceps runs underneath the deltoid. Shoulder strains can happen when someone lifts too much weight, jerks a heavy weight or object around, or falls. Strains can vary from mild to severe, depending on how badly the muscle fibers have been stretched. Strains usually heal on their own, but ice can be an effective treatment.

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

Tendinitis occurs in the shoulder when there is an inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons and the bursa that surrounds them. Strains in this area are technically know as shoulder impingements. Tendinitis usually occurs when the top of the humerus (upper arm bone) and acromiom, the protruding part of the scapula, rub together and irritate the labral cartilage. People who have tendinitis can have pain when they sleep on their affected shoulder at night. People with rotator cuff tendinitis sometimes have trouble raising their arm over their head.

Torn Rotator Cuff

A rotator cuff tear is another common shoulder injury. The rotator cuff consists of four tendons and muscles that support movement of the shoulder's ball-and-socket joint. Any one of these tendons can be torn by lifting heavy weights for many years, or because of age. Some common symptoms include pain on top of the shoulder or along the outside of the arm to the elbow. People with rotator cuff tears find it difficult to lift their affected arm above shoulder level or reach out for objects. Most of these injuries can heal on their own, but sometimes surgery is required. Rest and ice are the best treatments for a rotator cuff tear.

Labral Tear

The labrum is a cuff of cartilage that permits the humerus bone to move around freely. Labral tears can ache or cause pain with certain movements and activities. One type of labral tear is the SLAP tear. It is when the biceps tendon is detached. This injury is common with baseball players. Another labral tear is the Bankart lesion, which is when the shoulder becomes dislocated or pops out of the joint. A third type of labral tear is called a posterior labral tear, which occurs at the rear of the shoulder. It happens when the labrum and rotator cuff are pinched together. Most labral tears do not require surgery as they will heal on their own when cartilage is regenerated.

Shoulder Separation

A shoulder separation occurs at the top or the shoulder where the scapula and clavicle bones meet. This area is called the acromioclavicular joint. This type of injury is usually caused by a fall or sharp blow at the top of the shoulder. Many times, the ligament, tissues and nerves are injured. Sometimes one can even suffer fractured bones in the area. Common symptoms include severe pain, swelling and sometimes bruising. A lump can be present in some more serious injuries. The best treatment for a shoulder separation is rest and ice. Slings are often used to prevent movement and promote healing. More serious injuries may require surgery.

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