The shoulder joint allows the largest range of motion and movement of any other joint in the body. Therefore, it is not surprising that the shoulder is also a common area for injury, pain, and discomfort. The shoulder is comprised of three bones: the clavicle or collarbone, the scapula or shoulder blade, and the humerus or upper arm bone. 

What most people call the shoulder is really several joints that combine with tendons and muscles to allow a wide range of motion to the arm—from scratching your back to throwing the perfect pitch. Mobility has its price, however. It may lead to increasing problems with instability or impingement of soft tissue, resulting in pain. You may feel pain only when the shoulder is moved, or all of the time. The pain may be temporary and disappear in a short time, or it may continue and require medical diagnosis and treatment.

Most problems in the shoulder involve the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, rather than the bones. Athletes are especially susceptible to shoulder problems. In athletes, shoulder problems can develop slowly through repetitive, intensive training routines.

Some people have a tendency to ignore the pain and “play through” a shoulder injury, which only aggravates the condition, and may possibly cause more problems. People also underestimate the extent of their injury because steady pain, weakness in the arm, or limitation of joint motion become almost second nature to them.

Common Shoulder Conditions

When a muscle, tendon, or ligament that surrounds these shoulder bones is injured, then an injury may occur. The most common injuries to shoulders include:

Shoulder Treatment

Treatment of shoulder injuries can include exercises, oral anti-inflammatory medication, cortisone injections, physical therapy, and minimally invasive surgery such as arthroscopy. 

Treatment also generally involves altering activities, rest and physical therapy to help you improve shoulder strength and flexibility. Medication may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and reduce pain. If medication, such as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), is prescribed to relieve pain, it should be taken only as directed. Injections of drugs may also be used to treat pain.

Surgery may be required to resolve shoulder problems; however, most patients with shoulder pain will respond to simple treatment methods such as altering activities, rest, exercise, and medication. Certain types of shoulder problems, such as recurring dislocation and some rotator cuff tears, may require surgery.

Common sense solutions, such as avoiding overexertion or overdoing activities in which you normally don’t participate, can help to prevent shoulder pain.

Early diagnosis and treatment are important factors in recovering from shoulder injuries.

Contact Us

If you have any of the following symptoms, please call to schedule an appointment:

  • Limited range of motion in your shoulder
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling or tenderness
  • Grinding sensation in your shoulder
  • Steady pain in your shoulder

Dr. Joshua Matthews is a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery of the knee and shoulder. He completed his fellowship training in arthroscopy and sports medicine in San Diego, California. Dr. Matthews’ specialties include.

Please call FORM Ortho at (510) 585-2545 to schedule an appointment.