Common Shoulder Injuries – Can we avoid them?

Written by sports-admin
Saturday, 18 April 2015 1:03 PM

At our injury clinics we have seen lots of shoulder and neck injuries lately. In this blog we are looking to help explain why they may happen! Sports Therapy Scotland currently treats rotator cuff injuries, Shoulder impingement, frozen shoulder, pre and post op shoulder injuries. Get in touch if you have a question regarding your shoulder problem.

Common Shoulder Injuries

The shoulder is the most vulnerable joint in the human body due to its complexity and mobility. Athletic activities involving excessive, repetitive, overhead motion such as swimming, tennis, pitching, volleyball and weightlifting frequently cause shoulder injuries. Everyday activities such as household chores and gardening, as well as trauma associated with falls and/or contact sports can lead to shoulder injuries. Shoulder problems also result from everyday wear and tear and may be a natural process of aging. Most problems in the shoulder involve the muscles, ligaments and tendons, rather than the bones.

The shoulder is composed of only three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade) and the humerus (upper arm bone). But did you know that the shoulder actually encompasses four joints including the acromioclavicular, glenohumeral, sternoclavicular and scapulothoracic? The acromioclavicular and sternoclavicular joints have little to no mobility, so trauma typically causes problems with these joints. The glenohumeral and scapulothoracic joints, however, are very mobile. In fact, the ball-and-socket glenohumeral joint is the most moveable joint in the human body. The mobility of these joints makes the muscles, tendons and ligaments that stabilize them very susceptible to injury. The scapulothoracic and rotator cuff muscles must work together to stabilize and move these joints properly in order to prevent injuries. Pain and even injuries can result. Generally, two types of injuries can affect the shoulder. They can be classified as either overuse injuries or traumatic injuries.

Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries to the shoulder often develop slowly in athletes through intensive training routines, or in other individuals who perform repetitive overhead activity or activity away from their bodies. Individuals frequently try to “work through” shoulder pain, which only aggravates the condition and may possibly cause more problems, as well as hinder recovery. The quicker a problem is treated with specific strengthening, proper body mechanics and rest, the quicker it will get better.

The following are common overuse injuries and their symptoms: Impingement problems routinely affect individuals who do repetitive overhead activities. They are closely related to rotator cuff tendinitis and bursitis. They occur from the rubbing of the rotator cuff muscles and bursae against the top part of the shoulder blade called the acromion. Typical symptoms include: shoulder pain, weakness and loss of range of motion. Depending on the stage of the injury, pain may be more prominent with use, overhead activities or at night.

Instability problems occur when the head of the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket. Strong connective tissue, tendons, and muscles normally prevent this from happening. Shoulders become unstable through repetitive strain, multidirectional instability (a normal variant in some individuals) and acute trauma. Symptoms include a persistent sensation of the shoulder feeling loose, slipping in and out of the joint or just “hanging there.” When severe, dislocation can occur. Instability can lead to impingement and obviously include symptoms of impingement.

Traumatic Injuries

Traumatic injuries to the shoulder occur from falls and through contact sports. Common injuries include: bruises, strains/sprains, brachial plexus neuropathies (injuries to nerves), shoulder separations/dislocations (sternoclavicular, acromioclavicular, or glenohumeral), rotator cuff tears and fractures. Diagnosis of shoulder problems involves taking a medical history, performing a physical examination and, if necessary, imaging tests such as x-ray, MRI and ultrasound. Treatment of shoulder injuries varies based on the type of injury. Most overuse injuries improve with relative rest, attention to body mechanics and strengthening of appropriate muscles. Physicians frequently prescribe

physical therapy to help with this process. Anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed, and for refractory cases injections and even surgery may be considered.

Traumatic shoulder problems involving minor aches and pains can frequently be treated at home with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). Rest the shoulder for 48 hours. Ice the injured area 20 minutes, four to eight times a day. Compress with even pressure with a wrap or bandage and elevate above the heart. Multiple other causes of shoulder pain exist including: pain from muscle tension, labral injuries, bicep tendon injuries, arthritis, infection and frozen shoulder. Pain may also be referred from other body areas such as the neck or even heart.

Sports Therapy Scotland currently treats rotator cuff injuries, Shoulder impingement, frozen shoulder, pre and post op shoulder injuries. Get in touch if you have a question regarding your shoulder problem.

Have any questions or would like to know more, contact us

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