Understanding the shoulder
Shoulder Injuries commonly involve the tendons, ligaments, and muscles surrounding the shoulder joint instead of the bones. Athletes are notoriously susceptible to shoulder problems which often develop slowly over time from repetitive and intense training routines. The tendency of many people is to try and ignore pain and attempt to “play through” a shoulder injury. This can aggravate the condition and increase the severity of the injury.
The key to preventing a serious shoulder injury is to detect and treat it early.
Common Shoulder Injuries
The glenoid labrum is a soft fibrous tissue rim that helps to stabilize the shoulder joint and serves as a point of attachment for several important ligaments. Symptoms of a tear include:
- Pain when raising the arm to head level
- A sense of shoulder instability
- Decreased range of motion
- dislocations of the shoulder
- Popping, catching, grinding or locking
- Night pain or pain during daily activity
- Loss of strength
The rotator cuff is made up of several tendons and four muscles that work to rotate and lift the shoulder. A rotator cuff tears are one of the most common shoulder injuries in adults. Symptoms include:
- Weakness in the shoulder
- Decreased shoulder range
- An ache that feels deep or in the outer part of the shoulder
- Pain during the night that interrupts sleep
- Pain when moving the arm
-Shoulder separations occur where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the highest point of the shoulder blade which is otherwise known as the AC joint. Most cases involve tearing or injuring the ligaments stabilize the joint. Shoulder separations can be anywhere from mild sprain to severe:
- A mild separation is a sprain of the AC ligament. The collarbone does not move and the bones will look normal on an X-ray.
- More serious separations occur when the AC ligament tears and the coracoclavicular (CC) ligament sprains or slightly tears. In this case, the collarbone will appear slightly out of alignment which causes a smaller bump or bulge above the shoulder.
- Severe shoulder separations involve a completely torn AC and CC ligament. The AC joint is put noticeably out of position causing a large bump above the shoulder.
The shoulder joint can turn in multiple directions making it the most mobile joint in the human body. As a result, it is also easily dislocated. If a complete dislocation occurs, ligaments and tissue may also be damaged. A partial dislocation can be less obvious and symptoms include:
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical technique that uses a fiber optic device called an arthroscope. A few small incisions are made into which the arthroscope and tiny surgical instruments can be inserted. There is no need for cutting any of the tendons or muscles in order for the Orthopedic surgeon to gain access to the affected area. Many different shoulder conditions can be diagnosed and treated through arthroscopy. As a result, the patient experiences less tissue damage, quicker recovery times, minimal scarring, and less discomfort after the procedure.
It is common for Shoulder arthroscopy to be performed in order to confirm the diagnosis from a imaging and physical examinations. In some cases, the patient can be treated during the arthroscopy procedure. The Orthopedic surgeon need only insert a few additional instruments into the area of the shoulder joint.
Arthroscopy can be used to treat several conditions involving the shoulder joint. This procedure is commonly used to treat:
Rotator cuff tears
AC joint arthritis
Anti Inflammatory Medication
Often times, shoulder injuries do not require surgery. In these cases, anti inflammatory medication can be administered to reduce swelling which in turn often reduces pain.
Orthopedic surgeons will often administer anti inflammatory medications and prescribe a series of exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles and prevent further injury. Listed below are some common shoulder exercises that can be used to strengthen shoulder muscles:
Face a wall and place your hands flatly on the wall in front of you. Spread your feet so they are shoulder-width apart. Lean toward the wall and slowly perform a push-up and hold for a count of five. Go for five reps twice daily.
Basic shoulder strengthening
Attach an elastic tubing to a doorknob. Slowly pull the elastic tubing toward your body and hold there for a five count. Do five repetitions with each arm twice a day.
Using a chair with armrests, sit upright with your feet flat on the floor. Use your arms to rise out of the chair slowly and hold it for five count. Repeat for five reps twice daily.
Get in the standard push-up position but with your hands spread slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Get your elbows out and completely locked. Plant your toes into the ground and shoot your hips towards the ceiling. The shape of your body should look like an upside-down ‘V’. Slowly lower the top of your head towards the ground. When your head is close to making contact with the floor, hold it and then press back up so you return to the starting position. Repeat for five reps twice daily.