The Shoulder Joint
Your shoulder is the most flexible joint in your body. It allows you to place and rotate your arm in many positions in front, above, to the side, and behind your body. This flexibility also makes your shoulder susceptible to instability and injury.
Depending on the nature of the problem, nonsurgical methods of treatment often are recommended before surgery. However, in some instances, delaying the surgical repair of a shoulder can increase the likelihood that the problem will be more difficult to treat later or have an inferior outcome. Early, correct diagnosis and treatment of shoulder problems can make a significant difference in the long run. In the US alone, it has been estimated that rotator cuff surgery saves society $3.44 billion due to improved function and return to work.
The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. It is made up of three bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula) and collarbone (clavicle). The ball at the top end of the arm bone fits into the small socket (glenoid) of the shoulder blade to form the shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint). The socket of the glenoid is surrounded by a soft-tissue rim (labrum). One end of the collarbone is joined with the shoulder blade by the acromioclavicular (AC) joint.
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that attach your upper arm to your shoulder blade. The muscles of the rotator cuff enable you to lift your arm, reach overhead, and take part in activities such as throwing or swimming.
A sac-like membrane (bursa) between the rotator cuff and the shoulder blade cushions and helps lubricate the motion between these two structures.
Common Conditions affecting the shoulder joint
1. Bursitis or Tendinitis
Bursitis or tendinitis can occur with overuse from repetitive activities, such as swimming, painting, or weight lifting. These activities cause rubbing or squeezing (impingement) of the rotator cuff under the acromion and in the acromioclavicular joint. Initially, these problems are treated by modifying the activity which causes pain and with a rehabilitation programme for the shoulder. Surgery may be recommended if non-operative treatment is unsuccessful.
When should you visit your shoulder surgeon?
- Injury to the shoulder with pain and swelling or deformity
- Redness around your shoulder with warmth and pain
- Inability to lift your arm
- Weakness of your shoulder
- Stiffness and limited movements at the shoulder
- Pain with activity
- More than ONE episode of shoulder dislocation
- Any of these symptoms causing disturbance of your sleep