Shoulder pain is a common condition treated at Airrosti. The shoulder is made up of several joints, tendons, and muscles. To function correctly and with full range of motion, the ligaments, muscles, and fascia surrounding the joint must work seamlessly together. Our providers are trained to find the source of the pain and eliminate it quickly and safely — typically in as few as three visits based on patient-reported outcomes.
What most people call the shoulder is really several joints that combine with tendons and muscles to allow a wide range of motion in the arm — from scratching your back to throwing the perfect pitch. Your shoulder is made up of three bones: your upper arm bone (humerus), your shoulder blade (scapula), and your collarbone (clavicle). The head of your upper arm bone fits into a rounded socket in your shoulder blade. This socket is called the glenoid. A combination of muscles and tendons keeps your arm bone centered in your shoulder socket. These tissues are called the rotator cuff. They cover the head of your upper arm bone and attach it to your shoulder blade.
Shoulder pain is an extremely common complaint, and there are many common causes of this problem. It is important to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms so that appropriate treatment can be directed at the cause. Most shoulder problems fall into four major categories: tendon inflammation (bursitis or tendonitis), instability, arthritis, or fracture. The most commonly affected tendons in the shoulder are the four rotator cuff tendons and one of the biceps tendons. The rotator cuff is made up of four small muscles and their tendons that cover the head of your upper arm bone and keep it in the shoulder socket. Your rotator cuff helps provide shoulder motion and stability.
Shoulder impingement occurs when the top of the shoulder blade (acromion) puts pressure on the underlying soft tissues when the arm is lifted away from the body. As the arm is lifted, the acromion rubs, or “impinges” on, the rotator cuff tendons and bursa. This can lead to bursitis and tendonitis, causing pain and limiting movement. Over time, severe impingement can even lead to a rotator cuff tear.
Shoulder instability occurs when the head of the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket. This can happen as a result of a sudden injury or from overuse. Shoulder dislocations can be partial, with the ball of the upper arm coming just partially out of the socket. This is called a subluxation. A complete dislocation means the ball comes all the way out of the socket. Once the ligaments, tendons, and muscles around the shoulder become loose or torn, dislocations can occur repeatedly. Recurring dislocations, which may be partial or complete, cause pain and unsteadiness when you raise your arm or move it away from your body. Repeated episodes of subluxations or dislocations lead to an increased risk of developing arthritis in the joint.
Shoulder pain can also result from arthritis. There are many types of arthritis. The most common type of arthritis in the shoulder is osteoarthritis, also known as “wear and tear” arthritis. Symptoms, such as swelling, pain, and stiffness, typically begin during middle age. Osteoarthritis develops slowly and the pain it causes worsens over time. Osteoarthritis may be related to sports or work injuries and chronic wear and tear. Other types of arthritis can be related to rotator cuff tears, infection, or an inflammation of the joint lining. Often people will avoid shoulder movements in an attempt to lessen arthritis pain. This sometimes leads to a tightening or stiffening of the soft tissue parts of the joint, resulting in a painful restriction of motion.
Many rotator cuff and shoulder injuries are misdiagnosed and mistreated due to a poor understanding of what actually occurs to the shoulder after it becomes injured. This leads to expensive diagnostics and imaging. Often these costly procedures do not change the course of treatment unless there is a complete rupture to one of the tendons, ligaments, and/or some other structural defect.
Airrosti Providers are expertly trained to evaluate the specific cause of your symptoms. An accurate diagnosis is critical to effective and efficient treatment of your shoulder pain. Learn more about Airrosti’s approach to quality care and rapid recovery.