5 Things You Should Know About Your Aching Shoulder

By Richard Savino, MD

Shoulder Pain older manThe shoulder is your body’s most flexible joint, but when your shoulder joint is damaged, using your arm can be painful. Here are five reasons you may experience shoulder pain:

1- Dislocated Shoulder – occurs due to a sudden blow to or jerking of the arm, overpowering the muscle fibers and causing the upper portion of the arm bone to be pulled from its socket. Dislocation can also occur due to a hard fall, which would also cause the upper arm bone to pop out of the shoulder socket. Symptoms may include pain when attempting to move the shoulder and upper arm and a deformed shoulder.

2- Tendonitis and Bursitis – referred to as rotator cuff disease, results in swelling, soreness or inflammation around the tendons (tendonitis). Bursitis, which typically accompanies tendonitis, refers to inflammation of the bursa sacs that protect the shoulder. Symptoms include pain and discomfort in the upper arm and shoulder particularly when raising the arm above the head. This condition is typically caused by rheumatoid arthritis and is common among athletes and occupations that require repetitive motions where one must frequently reach over his or her head.

3- Fractures – A fractured shoulder is often the result of trauma to the shoulder, such as attempting to brace oneself when falling. Typically, the collarbone and upper arm bone are the affected areas. A fracture can cause severe pain following a blow or fall. The bone itself may appear out of place under the skin, with redness and bruising to follow.

4- Separated Shoulder – Occurs when ligaments holding the shoulder joints together are torn. This injury occurs around the collarbone and shoulder blade. Torn ligaments can lead to the separation or misalignment of these two bones. A hard blow or awkwardly landing on an outstretched hand are common causes of this injury. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising and tenderness. In some cases, a protrusion, or bump, may form on the shoulder as well.

5- Frozen Shoulder – This can result from another condition or injury that limits use of the shoulder because of extreme pain. Shoulder muscles, tendons and ligaments become so stiff that normal movement is severely limited and extremely painful. Those at high risk for frozen shoulder include people with diabetes, stroke, lung disease, rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease, or who have been in an accident.

Dr. Savino is an orthopedic surgeon in private practice in Port Jefferson, NY.

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