Because it’s the most mobile joint in the body, the shoulder joint is also the most susceptible to injury. However, not all pain is caused from the same thing. Only a medical professional can properly diagnose your shoulder issues, but the information below can help assist you in getting a general idea of what your particular problem may be prior to visiting your physician.
The majority of shoulder problems fall into one of the four following categories:
• A variety of arthritis
• A bone fracture
• Joint Instability
• Tendon Inflammation or tear
Less common shoulder issues can stem from nerve issues, tumors as well as infections.
Arthritis –Arthritis essentially boils down to inflammation in the joints that is painful, stiffening and restricts the joint’s movement. The most common type of arthritis found in the shoulders is called osteoarthritis, more commonly known as “wear and tear arthritis.” This type of arthritis sets in very gradually. Over time, it becomes more and more painful as the swelling, pain, and stiffness become more severe. Since this is a “wear and tear” condition, it typically doesn’t begin to settle in until middle age.
Fracture – Sometimes, people can fracture a bone and not even realize it. These fractures can cause both severe swelling and pain. If the fracture is near the shoulder joint often times it can be interpreted as a shoulder joint problem, when in actuality, it is a bone issue. While the cause in younger patients is usually a high-impact injury, such as a sport or motorcycle injury, with older patients, it could be something as simple as a slip and fall. If a shoulder problem occurs shortly after a fall, a fracture may very well be the culprit.
Joint Instability – When the arm bone is forced out of the socket of the shoulder joint it loosens the connective tissues around the shoulder joint. Since these dislocations of the socket can be partial, they can sometimes occur without the individual being aware the joint has actually dislocated. However, dislocation can weaken, stretch or even tear the connective tissues, making the joint more susceptible to future dislocations or injuries. Repeated dislocations can also lead to arthritis. Dislocations will typically cause discomfort and a feeling of instability when raising the arm or outstretching it.
Bursitis – As far as tendon inflammation, oftentimes there is more than one culprit causing the problem. Bursitis is where bursae, tiny, liquid-filled sacs in the shoulder joint, become inflamed and swell up. Bursitis often goes hand-in-hand with tendinitis in the rotator cuff. The inflammation can be quite painful and can make daily tasks such as brushing your teeth or even putting your clothes on an agonizing and arduous process.
Tendonitis – Tendonitis is a result of the tendons, tough cord-like structures that connect muscle to bone, getting worn down. There are two primary types of tendonitis – acute and chronic. Acute tendonitis is typically caused by sports injuries, such as frequent throwing of a baseball or frequent heavy overhead work. Chronic tendonitis is caused by issues like arthritis or even simple wear and tear over time due to usage of the connective tissues.