The shoulder is a ball and socket joint consisting of 3 bones – the upper arm bone (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula), and collarbone (clavicle) – held in stable position by ligaments, tendons and muscles. The shoulder provides the greatest range of motion in our body. It allows us to lift and rotate our arms in many directions. Here, we explore common shoulder injuries, key medical conditions affecting the shoulder and the treatment options available.
Common Shoulder Injuries
Shoulder injuries frequently occur during sporting activities, especially those that require repetitive and excessive overhead motion, such as tennis, badminton, swimming and weightlifting. Injuries may also occur during daily activities such as when hanging the laundry. Most problems develop gradually, and the ligaments, muscles and tendons are the areas that tend to be affected. Shoulder problems may be minor or serious, depending on the severity of the injury and how long it is left untreated. Common injuries include:
Being the body’s most mobile joint, the shoulder is susceptible to dislocation. Shoulder dislocation is when the upper arm bone pops out of the socket that is part of the shoulder blade, and is a painful and traumatic injury often caused by a fall or during contact sports.
If treated immediately, shoulder function can be fully regained. However, in some cases, the shoulder joint becomes unstable after a dislocation event. As a result, the shoulder will become more prone to future dislocations.
Warning signs and symptoms of a dislocation include swelling or bruising, intense pain, a visibly out-of-place shoulder, numbing sensation along the neck area, and being unable to move the shoulder joint. Seek medical help immediately for a shoulder that appears to have been dislocated.
Trauma may fracture the bones that make up the shoulder, and the injury may require surgery should impact cause bones to break and displace from their original positions. For minor cases, treatment usually requires immobilisation with a sling support until the bone fragments heal. This normally takes about 6 – 8 weeks.
The symptoms of a shoulder fracture include pain in the shoulder, tenderness, swelling, discolouration or deformity at the affected area and limits in your movement.