Shoulder Structure – The human shoulder is made up of three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone) as well as associated muscles, ligaments and tendons. The articulations between the bones of the shoulder make up the shoulder joints.
Commonly, when we refer to the shoulder joint, it is the ball and socket joint formed between the top of the arm bone, and the socket which is a part of the shoulder blade. In most cases the shoulder injuries are due to repeated overuse, sports injuries or accidents. However, as you age, natural wear and tear also occurs in the shoulder tendons and bones.
Major Shoulder Problems
These shoulder problems are divided into three major scenarios, which are explained below
- Dislocation: The ball of the shoulder pops out of its socket in this injury. This happens when your shoulder is suddenly and forcefully pulled in an abnormal position, or after an accident. It causes excruciating pain and deformity of the shoulder. A dislocated shoulder needs emergency treatment. Please visit your nearest emergency department if you suspect this injury. You will receive first aid, and the ball will be put back into the socket in the emergency department. Later on, it needs specialist treatment to prevent it from happening repeatedly.
- Fracture. A fracture is a break of the bones. All the bones of the shoulder can have fractures – the collarbone, arm bone, or the shoulder blade. By far, the arm bone and collar bone fractures are a lot more common than shoulder blade fractures. They can break after an injury – a sudden hit, a fall on the shoulder, or in traffic accidents. These injuries require immediate medical attention. Please visit your nearest emergency department if you suspect a fracture. You will receive first aid, and some form of support to your injured shoulder. You will also need to follow up with an Orthopaedic surgeon for evaluation and proper treatment of the fracture – whether non-surgical, or surgical.
- Sports Injuries of the shoulder – These injuries are very common in racquet sports, throwing sports, and any sport that involves overhead activity (for example, bowling in cricket, swimming, etc.). They can also occur after falls and accidents.
Common Sports Injuries
Following are some of the common sports injuries around the shoulder:
- Rotator Cuff Tears: A tendon is a strong, but flexible tissue which connects muscles to bone The rotator cuff is an envelope of four tendons surrounding the ball and socket joint of the shoulder. It stabilises the ball of the shoulder into its socket throughout its tremendous range of movement. The rotator cuff is critically important for shoulder function. This is one of the commonest soft tissue injury to the shoulder
- Shoulder impingement: Shoulder impingement syndrome is a common cause of shoulder pain. It occurs when the rotator cuff tendon or bursa (a thin sac of fluid) is pinched between the roof and the ball of the shoulder. Overhead activity of the shoulder, especially repeated activity, is a risk factor for shoulder impingement syndrome (for example, swimming, tennis, painting, lifting, and other overhead sports). With impingement syndrome, pain is persistent and affects everyday activities.
Please consult a shoulder surgeon if you suspect any of the above. Timely and appropriate treatment gives good results to all the common shoulder injuries.
If neglected, these shoulder injuries can worsen and cause significant pain, stiffness, instability, and disability in the long term. Frozen Shoulder, repeated dislocations and shoulder arthritis are the consequences of the neglected injuries.