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Shoulder Injuries & Shoulder Pain
Shoulder injuries are either acute or chronic. An acute shoulder injury occurs suddenly through an impact, strain, sprain or twisting of the shoulder joint.
Chronic shoulder injuries may have come on for no apparent reason and gradually become worse. The shoulder joint is particularly susceptible to injury because of the very large range of movement required of it. This means the joint is much less stable than the hip joint for example.
The six main causes of shoulder pain originate from the rotar cuff, the glenoid labrum (a ring of tissue surrounding the joint), instability, stiffness and injury the AC joint or acromioclavicular joint.
Tick the symptoms which apply below to narrow down the potential causes of your shoulder pain.
A rotator cuff strain is a common cause of shoulder pain. Symptoms include a sudden pain in the shoulder, which can range from mild to severe. Pain may get worse over time with overhead movements likely to be painful.
Symptoms of an AC joint sprain include sudden onset shoulder pain at a bony point on top of the shoulder. There is often swelling a deformity or obvious lump on top of the shoulder may be seen. Pain is worse on overhead movements.
A bruised collar bone results from a direct impact to the collar bone at the front of the chest. Symptoms may include pain, bruising and swelling. The bone will be tender to touch. Lifting the arm up is likely to cause pain or discomfort.
A broken collar bone is a fracture of the clavicle bone which runs along the front of the shoulder. Often caused by a fall onto the shoulder or an outstretched arm. Pain at the front of the shoulder, swelling and deformity are symptoms.
The Clavicle or collar bone has a number of muscle attachments along its length. The can become inflamed and painful either through over use or following an traumatic impact or shoulder injury.
A deltoid contusion is a bruise in the deltoid muscle situated on the side of the shoulder. This occurs after a direct impact to the muscle with symptoms of pain, swelling and loss of function.
A deltoid strain is a tear to the deltoid muscle on the top of the shoulder. Pain can be felt on the front, side or back of the shoulder. It is less common than a rotator cuff injury.
A shoulder dislocation usually occurs when the arm is rotated outwards and backwards. Severe shoulder pain, rapid swelling and inability to move the arm are symptoms. Immediate medical attention is required.
Often caused by a fall onto an outstretched arm a fracture at the neck or top of the upper arm bone is more likely in young adults, adolescents and the elderly. Severe pain, rapid swelling and loss of function are symptoms.
There are three phases to a frozen shoulder; a freezing phase where the joint tightens up, a stiff phase where the pain is less but also range of movement is very limited and a thawing phase where normal function is regained.
Symptoms include non-specific shoulder pain which is made worse by overhead activities or when the arm is held behind the back. The patient may experience weakness and instability with tenderness over the front of the shoulder.
Symptoms include gradual onset pain at the front of the shoulder. Tenderness will be felt when pressing in at the front of the shoulder and lifting the arm out forwards against resistance may cause pain along with over head movements.
Symptoms include a sudden sharp pain at the front of the upper arm. There may be pain and swelling at the front of the shoulder or upper arm. Contracting the biceps muscle against resistance may be painful.
The tendon of the pectoralis major muscle inserts at the front of the upper arm. Pain will come on gradually over time at the point where the tendon inserts and will get worse with exercise, particularly weight training or racket sports.
Symptoms of a pec major sprain will include a sudden sharp pain at the front of the upper arm. Rapid swelling is likely and bruising may develop over time. A gap or deformity may be seen in server cases.
A posterior shoulder dislocation occurs when the head of the humerus moves backwards out of the socket. Not a common injury but severe pain, rapid swelling and bruising are likely with complete loss of function.
A growth plate fracture or epiphysis plate fracture occurs at the end of a bone in children before the bone has fully developed. Often caused by a fall onto an arm of shoulder. Sudden shoulder pain with rapid swelling is likely.
Pain in the shoulder can be referred or caused by a problem in another area of the body such as the neck or spine. Symptoms may vary and pain can radiate into the neck, shoulders, arm and fingers with numbness and tingling possible.
Rotator cuff tendonitis or tendinosis is a degenerative condition of any of the four rotator cuff tendons. Symptoms will have come on gradually and include pain in the shoulder when rotating the arm, especially against resistance.
A scapula fracture is a break in the shoulder blade bone caused by a traumatic impact or collision. Symptoms consist of sudden pain at the back of the shoulder with rapid swelling inability to move the arms above head height.
In order to thoroughly assess any injury, a sound knowledge of the anatomy of the area is required. This enables localised pain to be related to the surrounding structures
Impingement syndrome symptoms will come on gradually over a period of time. There may be pain at the front, back or side of the shoulder, especially during overhead movements such as throwing or in racket sports.
A shoulder sprain is a tear to the ligaments that support the shoulder joint. Symptoms include sudden onset pain in the shoulder, usually at the front of the joint. Rapid swelling may appear and the shoulder will be painful to move.
Shoulder subluxation or shoulder instability occurs when the shoulder partially dislocates. There may be shoulder joint pain with swelling. Anterior instability where the joint pops out the front is more common.
Shoulder Tendonitis is inflammation or a degenerative condition of any of the tendons surrounding the shoulder joint, usually the rotator cuff tendons. Pain will come on gradually with the location depending on which tendon is involved.
Symptoms will include pain when pressing in specifically at the sterno-clavicular joint where the collar bone meets the sternum. Pain may radiate into the shoulder and it is likely there will be a visible bony lump over the joint.
Subacromial bursitis has similar symptoms to Supraspinatus tendinitis with shoulder pain and weakness over a 60 degree arc when the arm is lifted sideways.
The subscapularis is a very powerful muscle that rotates the arm inwards and is part of the rotator cuff group of muscles. It is often injured by throwers and can be stubborn to treat.
Aching or burning pain will be felt at the back and or side of the shoulder joint. The pain will come on gradually and feel like it is deep within the shoulder joint and may radiate through the arm. Muscle wasting may occur over time.
Symptoms of an inflamed supraspinatus tendon include pain and weakness when the arm is lifted up sideways which is worse through a 60 degree arc during the midsection
The supraspinatus muscle runs along the top of the shoulder blade and inserts at the top of the arm or humerus bone and is one of the four rotator cuff muscles.
A winged scapula is a symptom of another condition, rather than an injury itself. It is where the shoulder blade protrudes out on the back