The shoulders are among the most mobile joints in your body. Discomfort or pain in your shoulder bones or muscles may limit your mobility and affect your general productivity. In most cases, shoulder injuries develop slowly, and you may not experience pain until there is a limited range of motion. Certain signs may indicate that you have a shoulder injury, for example, numbness and tingling sensations in your hands or arms. It is important to visit your La Jolla, CA orthopedic shoulder & elbow surgeon to diagnose and treat a shoulder injury.
Examples and causes of shoulder injuries
Rotator cuff tear
The upper arm consists of a group of four muscles called the rotator cuff. Tendons provide attachment of these muscles to the bones. The rotator cuff facilitates the movement of your arm. However, a tear in the tendon partially inhibits the mobility of the humerus in the socket. If you have a rotator cuff tear, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Pain when you raise your arm
- Weakness when moving your shoulder
- Pain that worsens when you apply pressure on the affected shoulder
- Tenderness when moving your shoulder
What causes a rotator cuff injury?
Certain factors such as age may increase your chances of obtaining a rotator cuff tear. As you become older, tendons degenerate and become weak. When tendons become weak, they can easily tear.
Lifting very heavy objects strains your tendons which leads to an overstretch or tear of the rotator cuff.
Your specialist may recommend a non-surgical or surgical method based on your diagnostic results. If you do not have a complete tear, your doctor may recommend that you engage in exercises with the help of your physical therapist. Certain postures and shoulder biomechanics may also help reduce the pain and discomfort.
In severe cases, your specialist may perform a shoulder arthroscopy. This is a surgical process where your surgeon will make a small incision to create a passway for an arthroscope, which enables your doctor to examine and repair torn tendons.
Shoulder impingement occurs due to constant motion, which may cause one or more tendons to get trapped or pinched between the shoulder bones. You may experience severe inflammation and swelling of the rotator cuff.
This type of shoulder injury is common in athletes, people who play basketball, softball, and golf. Swimmers are also at high risk for developing this shoulder injury. Such sporting activities involve repetitive arm movement and increase the chances of getting shoulder impingement.
Symptoms for impingement
- Extreme pain when you raise your arm overhead
- A feeling of weakness on your shoulders
- Tenderness in the back when extending your reach
Your specialist may recommend different treatment methods, including:
- Steroid injections. Your doctor may use the needle to administer cortisone which helps to reduce pain and inflammation in your shoulder.
- Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofen to help minimize the pain.
- Physical therapy. Stretching exercises may help increase your shoulder’s range of motion. Your therapist may also give you home exercises to facilitate fast recovery.
Living with shoulder impingement and a tear in your tendons can be stressful. Visit your doctor at Upper Extremity Specialists for treatment to enjoy a pain-free life.