Why Is My Shoulder Sore And Should I See A Doctor?

December 10th, 2018 Becki Andrus

If you decide to look up the literal meaning for the word ‘shoulder’ you will discover that it is a verb. The word is then specifically defined as ‘to be responsible for’. This is appropriate since our shoulder joints also assume a great deal of responsibility for the physical tasks that we perform. Particularly the many movements that we take for granted even though they remain essential in normal day-to-day living.

Understanding Your Shoulder

Your shoulder joints can sometimes become susceptible to injuries due to how we use our shoulders, and how often we ask them to repeat the same motion. The likelihood for this to take place will increase if you have an active lifestyle, and particularly if you are involved in athletics. There are a number of different issues that can develop with your shoulders, and if you are feeling any pain, it can be difficult to know what specific problem has occurred. That can make it challenging when you are attempting to decide whether or not you should consult a physician.

For this reason, it is beneficial to understand more about your shoulder. Especially your rotator cuff, which can be the location for many shoulder injuries. Your shoulder joint is formed where your upper arm bone – which is also known as the humerus – fits into the shoulder blade – which is also referred to as the scapula. There are other critical bones that are located adjacent to this area including the acromion. This is found near the clavicle, which is also known as the collarbone. The coracoid is also nearby and (along with the acromion) functions as a bony area near the scapula.

Your rotator cuff is a collection of muscles and tendons that enclose your shoulder joint. while keeping the humerus inside your shoulder socket. The rotator cuff also plays a vital role in your ability to rotate and raise your arms. There is a cluster of four muscles contained within this area, and they each perform a critical role in how your shoulder functions properly, starting with the Supraspinatus, which keeps your humerus and upper arm stable, while also providing assistance in lifting your arm. This particular rotator cuff muscle is also where a large percentage of injuries in this area will occur.

The Infraspinatus is located directly behind the supraspinatus and is a primary muscle that helps you rotate and extend your shoulder. You also have the Subscapularis, which keeps your upper arm held to the bone to your shoulder blade and is important when you attempt to rotate your arm, lower it, or straighten it. Finally, the Teres Minor is the smallest muscle among those in your rotator cuff, although it is vital when you want to rotate your arm away from your body.

Injuries Of The Shoulder  

Our frequent usage of the shoulder can eventually lead to injuries, and one of the potential issues that can arise is a frozen shoulder. This will create pain and stiffness, and your movement will become more limited if it intensifies. There are also several forms of arthritis that can cause shoulder issues including Osteoarthritis, which is a frequent result of wear-and-tear that emerges as we age. Rheumatoid arthritis involves your immune system actually attacking your joints, which can take place in your shoulder joint. Sometimes you can also find yourself contending with gout, which also forms in the joints, and can cause both pain and inflammation.

Another common problem is tendinitis. This is an inflammation or irritation of the tendon that is attached to your bone. It can create pain in the area that is just outside your joint. Bursitis can also occur if the bursa becomes irritated. This is a small sac that is filled with fluid that protects your rotator cuff, and any irritation that may occur is most often due to repetitive motion. If you do encounter tendinitis or bursitis, these issues can improve through simple rest, ice, heat, and pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Unfortunately, there are other issues that can develop with your shoulder that will involve an entirely different path toward good health. Sometimes an impingement might develop if one of your tendons begins to swell and becomes pinched by the top of your shoulder joint. This is often caused by extensive use of the shoulder, and older adults may also develop an impingement due to wear and tear that accumulates over the years.

You can also experience a labral tear if you quickly lift something above your head. An accident or overuse can also cause a tear in the labrum, which is an area of cartilage that is adjacent to the humerus. Most labral tears heal without requiring surgery.

A common injury to the shoulder that creates concern for many people is an actual rotator cuff tear, which involves a torn area within the tendons or muscles near the humerus. Rotator cuff tears can emerge because of an injury that suddenly occurred, or can take place as a result of long-term use. Some rotator cuff tears are partial, while others involve a complete tear that progresses beyond the tendon and separates it from the bone.

If the problem that you are experiencing with your shoulder is due to an injury to your rotator cuff, a primary symptom will be the pain that you are feeling. This will become more intense when you attempt to raise your arm, and the discomfort is likely to increase if you do not address the situation. You will also notice the restrictions that occur in your movement and your strength.

When To Consult With A Doctor

If you are experiencing pain or having difficulty making movements that did not present a problem previously, that will understandably create concern. Since there are a number of possibilities regarding why this is taking place, it is appropriate to consult with a physician when if you find yourself in this situation.

Fortunately, the specialists at Orthopedic Associates are dedicated to helping you with a large range of shoulder conditions, including any injuries to the rotator cuff. These include:

  • Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Arthritis
  • Anatomy of the Shoulder
  • Biceps Tendinitis
  • Biceps Tendon Rupture
  • Burners and Stingers
  • Calcific Tendinitis of the Shoulder (Degenerative Calcification)
  • Calcific Tendinitis of the Shoulder (Reactive Calcification)
  • Fracture of the Collarbone (Clavicle)
  • Fracture of the Shoulder Socket (Glenoid Fracture)
  • Fractures of the Greater Tuberosity
  • Fractures of the Shoulder Blade (Scapula)
  • Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)
  • Glenoid Labrum Tears
  • Hill-Sachs Lesion
  • Loose Shoulder (Multidirectional Instability)
  • Muscle Imbalance in the Shoulder
  • Muscle Strain of the Upper Back (Trapezius Strain)
  • Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Proximal Humerus Fracture (Broken Shoulder)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) of the Shoulder
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries/Tears
  • Shoulder Dislocations
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
  • Shoulder Separation
  • SLAP Tear (Superior Labrum from Anterior to Posterior Tear)
  • Snapping Scapula Syndrome
  • Subacromial Bursitis
  • Suprascapular Neuropathy
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Winged Scapula

The professionals at Orthopedics Associates also have the experience and expertise to perform multiple types of treatments and surgeries for the shoulder including:

  • Absorbable Antibiotic Bead Treatment for Osteomyelitis
  • Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Separation Repair
  • Anesthesia
  • Arthroscopic Bankart Repair
  • Arthroscopic Capsular Plication/Release
  • Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair
  • Biceps Tenodesis
  • Cold Laser Therapy
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
  • Diagnostic Arthroscopy (Shoulder)
  • Distal Clavicle Excision (Resection Arthroscopic Technique)
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Glenohumeral Debridement
  • HemiCap® Resurfacing
  • Intracapsular (Glenoid) Injection
  • Joint Injection (Therapeutic Shoulder)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Mini-Open Rotator Cuff Repair
  • Multimodal Anesthesia and Pain Control
  • Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)
  • ORIF Surgery for Proximal Humerus Fracture
  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injection Ove
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
  • Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement
  • Rotator Cuff Repair (Mini-Open Supraspinatus Tendon-to-Bone Insertion)
  • Shoulder Impingement Surgery
  • Shoulder Resurfacing
  • SLAP Repair
  • Subacromial Injection
  • Suprascapular Nerve Block (Fluoroscopically Guided)
  • Total Shoulder Replacement
  • Ultrasound-Guided Injection for Shoulder Pain

We encourage you to contact us or visit us at either of our convenient locations if you have any questions or concerns about your shoulder.


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