Shoulder pain

There is a difference in simply being sore due to exercise and other, more pressing shoulder issues. Some soreness after a workout or other physical activity is okay. If you are sore for 2 to 5 days after the activity, treating with pain medication such as anti-inflammatories, ice and rest can often help resolve the issue. If, however, your pain lasts more than 3 to 5 days or is reproducible with one specific activity or movement, making an appointment with your doctor is important.

If you are experiencing prolonged sharp pain in your shoulder, decreased range of motion or other symptoms related to a fall or injury, Memorial Hermann Joint Centers offer treatment options structured around your needs. With medication, physical therapy and even surgical modalities of treatment, our team and facilities can provide you with a therapeutic approach to manage and treat your shoulder pain.

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Shoulder Anatomy

Your shoulder complex is composed of several layers, including bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles.

Bones in the Shoulder

The bones in the shoulder are the clavicle (collarbone), scapula (shoulder blade) and the humerus (upper arm).

Shoulder Joints

Joints are where movement occurs and include the sternoclavicular joint, the acromioclavicular (AC) joint  and the shoulder joint (glenohumeral), which is a ball-and-socket joint. This joint facilitates the movement of your shoulder.

Ligaments in the Shoulder

Ligaments are white, shiny bands of fibrous tissue that hold joints together. They connect various bones together. One ligament group, the joint capsule, helps to stabilize your shoulder.

Tendons, Muscles and Rotator Cuff

Tendons are tough cords of tissue that connect muscle to bone. The rotator cuff tendons are a major group that connect the deepest layer of muscles to your upper arm bone. These muscles, including the rotator cuff, facilitate movement of your shoulder.

All of these components work together to give you range of motion and allow you to go about your daily life. Many of these structures can be damaged due to acute injury such as a fall, dislocation or a tear due to exertion or use.

Common Types of Shoulder Injuries

One of the body’s largest and most complicated joints, the shoulder can break down due to several factors, including age, gender and level of activity. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons groups shoulder injuries into the following categories:

  • Shoulder Instability: Occurring when the shoulder joint is forced out of its normal position, shoulder instability includes shoulder separations and dislocations. Patients often experience pain and weakness when raising their arms and may feel as if their shoulder is “slipping out of place.”
  • Shoulder Impingement: Caused by the shoulder muscles rubbing against the top of the shoulder blade (called the acromion), impingement is typically a repetitive stress injury. If left untreated, it can develop into more serious problems affecting the shoulder muscles and ligaments.
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries: Most often associated with athletes, this type of shoulder injury can actually happen to anyone. Rotator cuff muscle strains and tendon tears require immediate treatment to ensure there is no permanent loss of mobility in the shoulder.
  • Frozen Shoulder: Adhesive capsulitis, commonly referred to as a “frozen shoulder,” is a progressive condition that usually presents as a slowly increasing level of shoulder pain over time. While it doesn’t usually require invasive medical intervention, it can — like most shoulder issues — greatly impact your quality of life because of the decreased range of motion you experience with this condition.

Common Causes for Shoulder Injuries

Although we often associate shoulder injuries with professional athletes or those with very active lifestyles, this type of injury can affect just about anyone. We do, however, see some common causes associated with shoulder injury, including:

  • Sports involving overhead activity that put stress on the shoulder joint, such as swimming, baseball and tennis
  • Activities requiring repetitive lifting or overhead motion, such as construction, painting or hanging curtains
  • On-the-job repetitive stress injuries such as awkward postures, frequent lifting and carrying, using vibrating equipment, static loading, or holding awkward postures
  • Unexpected accidents

Signs and Symptoms of Shoulder Injuries

While some shoulder injuries, such as dislocation, can occur without warning, the vast majority of injuries develop slowly, through repetitive movements. If you notice any of the following early warning signs of shoulder issues, schedule a checkup with an orthopedic specialist to avoid further complications down the road:

  • Intense shoulder stiffness,
  • Shoulder pain, even at rest,
  • Inability to normally rotate your arm,
  • Weakness in the shoulder area, or
  • Feeling like your shoulder might pop or slide out of socket

Treatment Options for Shoulder Injuries

The affiliated orthopedic surgeons at Memorial Hermann offer innovative treatment options for shoulder injuries and disorders.

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Top orthopedic surgeons will tell you that the key to recovering from a shoulder injury is physical therapy.

Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institutes and convenient Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation clinics provide advanced physical therapy and specialty care at locations across the Greater Houston area, making shoulder rehabilitation as convenient as possible for every patient.

Arthritis Treatment

According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 50 million adults suffer from arthritis, making it the leading cause of disability in America. Arthritis of the shoulder can cause inflammation, pain and stiffness, and can make it difficult to go about your daily routine. Memorial Hermann offers several treatment options for those with arthritic shoulder pain, from physical and aquatic therapy to joint replacement.

Bankart Repair

Bankart tears most often occur when a patient dislocates their shoulder, tearing the cartilage of the shoulder socket that reinforces the shoulder joint. Repairing a Bankart tear may require outpatient, minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery, and patients often go home within a few hours after the procedure.

Rotator Cuff Repair

Rotator cuff injuries are some of the most commonly diagnosed shoulder injuries, and there are a variety of options for treatment. Your doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery to fix a torn rotator cuff, which involves re-attaching the tendon to the humerus, or upper-arm bone. A partial rotator cuff tear, on the other hand, may simply need a trimming or smoothing procedure called a debridement.

Find Personalized Care

The team of physicians, orthopedic surgeons, therapists, and trainers at Memorial Hermann treat a variety of orthopedic injuries, allowing the active patient to return to their desired activity level in a safe, effective, and timely manner. For more information on available treatment options, physical therapy, or human performance services, fill out the form below.

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