Shoulder Injury FAQs

What classifies a shoulder injury?

Shoulder Injury FAQ's Why is the shoulder easily affected? Shoulder injuries are manifested by sore muscles, aches and pains whereby the full use of the shoulder and  arm are limited due to the injury. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, weakness, changes in temperature, color, or changes in your range of motion.

Why is the shoulder easily affected?

The shoulders are the most movable joints in the body. They can be unstable because the ball of the upper arm is larger than the shoulder socket that holds it. To remain in a stable or normal position, the shoulder must be anchored by muscles, tendons and ligaments, which if any of these become strained could subsequently become an injury.

Who are at risk for shoulder problems/injuries?

Men, women, and children can have shoulder problems and injuries. Shoulder problems may result from sports injury, car accident, slip and fall, and occupational related stress and accident.

What are the most common shoulder problems/injuries?

The most common shoulder problems are dislocation, separation, rotator cuff disease, rotator cuff tear, frozen shoulder, contusion, fracture and arthritis.

How is shoulder problem treated at home?

Shoulder problems are most often first treated with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). It is best to avoid doing heavy task for at least 48 hours. Those injured should place an ice pack on the injured area for 20 minutes, four to eight times per day.  Patients should  always apply an even pressure (compression) on the painful area to help reduce the swelling. A wrap or bandage can also be put in place to keep the shoulder above the heart. It is best to see a doctor immediately if the pain and stiffness persist.

What is a rotator cuff?

The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles in the shoulder, connecting the upper arm to the shoulder blade. The rotator cuff tendons provide stability to the shoulder and  all of the arm muscles to  allow the shoulder to rotate.

What are some common rotator cuff problems?

Common rotator cuff injuries include:

  • Tearing of the rotator cuff, especially in tendons that have been weakened through age or excessive wear and tear.
  • Tendinitis may develop through repetitive overhead movements of the arms such as painting or throwing a ball.
  • Rotator cuff impingement may develop if the tendons of the rotator cuff are squeezed between the upper arm and a nearby bone called the acromion.
  • Subacromial bursitis is the inflammation of the small sac of fluid (bursa) that cushions the rotator cuff tendons from a nearby bone.
  • Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) may be experienced in cases where the upper arm adheres to the shoulder blade and causes shoulder pain and stiffness.

What is frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is a condition that produces stiffness, pain, and limited range of movement. It may follow an accident or an injury that causes the tissues around the joint to stiffen and scar tissue to form. It results in difficult, painful shoulder movements.

What causes frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder can develop when you stop using the joint normally because of pain, injury, or a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or arthritis. Frozen shoulder may occur:

  • After surgery or injury.
  • Most often in people 40 to 70 years old.
  • More often in women (especially in postmenopausal women) than in men.
  • Most often in people with chronic diseases such as diabetes.
  • Any shoulder problem can lead to frozen shoulder if you do not work to maintain a full range of motion.

For more information, see Utah’s Christensen & Hymas’ article on “Shoulder Injury Resources” or visit our “Shoulder Injuries” article.

Image “Pectoralis minor muscle and shoulder blade” copyright by Anatomography.

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