Think of just about any major sport and the role your shoulder plays in active involvement. It’s a key component of just about any athletic endeavor, from baseball, football, hockey and basketball to tennis, volleyball, cycling and even running. The shoulder is a pretty durable joint, but can easily become inflamed or even worse, if you subject it to overuse. Some injuries respond well to rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). There may come a time, though, when your best option for a healthy and pain-free future is some form of shoulder surgery.
The Different Types of Shoulder Injuries
A shoulder injury can take a variety of forms:
- Shoulder arthritis, or ostearthritis—There’s cartilage in your shoulder joint that provides protection for your bones. When that wears down (as it typically does when you age), your bones can rub against each other, causing pain. Some of the telltale signs of shoulder arthritis are limited range of motion, or a grinding/clicking sound when you use your shoulder. It’s also common to experience pain in the night.
- A torn rotator cuff—It not the most common shoulder injury, it’s the one most commonly recognized by the public. Your rotator cuff is essentially a group of tendons and muscles that wrap over the top of your shoulder joint. When you tear the muscle or tendon, it can cause both pain and weakness in your shoulder. If you’ve torn the rotator cuff, you’ll probably feel a dull ache that feels like it’s way inside your shoulder.
- Rotator cuff tendonitis—If you’ve inflamed the rotator cuff, but not torn it, that’s customarily referred to as rotator cuff tendonitis or shoulder impingement. Often, it’s simply the result of repetitive stress or overuse. You’ll probably feel some tenderness at the front of your shoulder or the midpoint of your arm. You may also feel a twinge when you lift your arms.
- A SLAP tear—This is an abbreviation for a superior labrum anterior/posterior tear—The labrum is cartilage that helps keep the ball of your shoulder joint in place. It can be torn, typically as a result of traumatic injury. Often, when the labrum is torn, the bicep on that arm is torn as well. Symptoms of a torn labrum include loss of range of motion, pain when lifting the arm, grinding, popping or locking of the shoulder.
- Dislocated shoulder—When the ball at the end of your upper arm becomes dislodged from the socket, that’s known as a dislocated shoulder. Once it happens, it’s common for sufferers to develop some instability in the joint, increasing susceptibility to future dislocations.
- Frozen shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)—With this condition, you temporarily lose the ability to move your shoulder without significant pain. The shoulder then becomes stiff, with limited range of motion.