What Makes the Shoulder So Delicate?

What Makes the Shoulder So Delicate?

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

Shoulders are the most mobile joint of the human body. They offer the greatest range of motion – and because of this flexibility, it is one of the most injured joints in the body. The shoulder involves three bones: the humerus (upper arm bone), the clavicle (collarbone), and the scapula (shoulder blade).

Your shoulder enables you to lift and throw objects in every way, including overhead. The ability to use your hands is largely thanks to the capability of the shoulder joint. 

In addition to the three bones that form the joint, there are numerous ligaments, tendons, and nerves that all play a significant role in using the shoulder. There is a joint capsule that is composed of a group of ligaments which connect the humerus to the glenoid socket, and these ligaments are responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joint.

Shoulder Injuries

When a shoulder is injured, the pain usually worsens with any movement of the arm. Let’s talk about the most common injuries, particularly a torn rotator cuff.

Rotator Cuff Tear

One of the most common types of shoulder injury is a torn rotator cuff. The rotator cuff comprises the tendons that attach the muscles to the bones around the shoulder joint.

An injury to the rotator cuff can cause a dull ache in the shoulder. The pain often gets worse if you try to sleep on that side or if you continue doing the motion that caused the injury. This injury occurs most frequently in people who perform overhead or repetitive motions in the course of their job or sports.

How Do You Get a Torn Rotator Cuff?

Painters, carpenters, hairdressers, artists, baseball players, and tennis players are all susceptible to a torn rotator cuff. Chances of injury increases with age and extensive use. 

Sometimes rotator cuff injuries are a result of a single acute incident. In cases like this, medical care should be sought as soon as possible so that the injury does not continue to worsen.

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Injury

If your rotator cuff is torn partially or fully, you will feel pain. It can be described as a dull ache deep in the shoulder or disabling pain whenever the arm is used or when pressure is placed on the rotator cuff.

It is often impossible to sleep on the affected shoulder, because the pain will awake you. You will also have difficulty reaching up to comb your hair, reaching back to put on a shirt, or reaching behind your torso.

Without treatment, rotator cuff problems may lead to permanent loss of motion and degeneration of the joint, necessitating shoulder replacement surgery. Even though using the joint is painful with this condition, keeping the shoulder completely immobilized can lead to a shortening and thickening of the connective tissues, resulting in frozen shoulder syndrome.

Your doctor will explain how much and how you should move your shoulder while it heals. Because tendons and ligaments take a longer time to heal than do muscles and skin, you can assume that your shoulder is healing as long as you are letting it rest and only moving gently.

Orthopedic Surgeons in Colorado

If you or someone you know has pain deep in the shoulder, it is likely that the cause is a torn rotator cuff. Contact the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence and let us perform a medical evaluation of your shoulder. 

Call us today at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online. Don’t let an aching shoulder keep you down and out any longer – seek help from Colorado’s premier orthopedists!