The shoulder is the most flexible joint in your body, and because of this, it is susceptible to injuries such as dislocation, fracture, and cartilage tear. You can sustain a shoulder injury from a fall or a car accident. While shoulder injuries can affect anyone regardless of age, factors such as age, occupation, body mass index, and sex influence your risk. Mild forms of injuries usually improve with conservative treatments such as over-the-counter medications. However, should symptoms such as pain persist, visit your orthopedic shoulder & elbow surgeon in La Jolla for advanced treatment, including physical therapy and steroid injections.
Types of shoulder injuries
- Shoulder separation
It is an injury that affects the ligaments connecting the clavicle to the shoulder bone. A shoulder separation can be a mild injury where the ligaments are stretched, but it can also be severe in the case of torn ligaments. The symptoms depend on the severity of the injury, and examples include pain, swelling, weakness, and limited range of motion. A mild injury can improve with conservative treatment such as over-the-counter medications and hot or cold compresses. However, if the injury is extreme, your doctor may recommend surgery to reconnect the torn ligaments and reposition any injured bones.
A fracture can affect one or more of the three bones that make up your shoulder, including the clavicle, shoulder bone, or humerus. A broken bone or fracture usually produces intense pain, among other symptoms such as swelling and reduced range of motion. You can fracture your bone due to a motor vehicle accident, contact sports, or a fall from a high place. Most shoulder fractures where the bones are non-displaced get better with non-surgical treatments such as immobilization. However, if the bones are displaced, you may need surgery to reposition their right anatomical position.
- Rotator cuff injury
The shoulder comprises a group of muscles and tendons called the rotator cuff. A tear may occur in these muscles due to a single injury, and the risk increases as you grow older. People with jobs that require repetitive movement of the arm are also highly susceptible to this injury. Patients with a rotator cuff injury usually experience a dull ache which worsens when you stretch your arm. Treatment is crucial to avoid further degeneration of the shoulder joint. Treatment methods such as injections, therapy, and surgery are usually beneficial for patients with a severe form of injury.
- Shoulder labrum tear
Rubbery padding called the labrum cushions and reinforced two joints in the shoulder – the ball and socket joints. A cartilage tear in the shoulder can result from repetitive motion, putting athletes at a higher risk for this injury. You can also sustain this injury when your shoulder absorbs much force when you fall or from any accident. Older adults are more susceptible to this injury since their cartilage becomes weak over time. The pain usually worsens when you stretch your arm over your head. Anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections, and physical therapy are some treatment approaches your doctor may recommend.
If you have further questions or need treatment for any shoulder injury, visit your orthopedic surgeon at Upper Extremity Specialists.