By cobaltmoe | June 22nd, 2021 |
The Basic Anatomy of Our Shoulders
The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint made of a number of interconnected parts, soft tissues, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves. The acromioclavicular (AC) joint connects the upper part of the shoulder blade to the collarbone (clavicle), and then the glenohumeral joint connects the shoulder sockets to the arm bone (humerus).
Ligaments that connect the various bones that make up the shoulder joint include:
- Coraco-clavicular ligaments – connect the collarbone to the shoulder blade.
- Acromioclavicular ligament – connects the scapula to the thorax.
- Coracoacromial ligament – triangular muscle that connects the clavicle to the caracoid process of the scapula.
- Glenohumeral ligaments – a group of three ligaments that provide stability to the otherwise unstable shoulder joint by preventing dislocation.
Soft tissues, known as articular cartilage, in the shoulder help to allow the bones to move without friction, providing smoother movement. The cartilage also helps to reduce pressure and acts as a shock absorber during shoulder movement.
Muscles of the shoulder include the main group of 4 muscles known as the rotator cuff. These muscles provide stability and allow the shoulder to move in a wide range of motion.
Tendons are strong tissues that connect the shoulder muscles to the bones, allowing for controlled movement. Bicep tendons and rotator cuff tendons provide stability and mobility to the shoulder joint.
Additional components of the shoulder include nerves and blood vessels.
Typical Causes of Shoulder Injuries and Pain
Unfortunately, it is the shoulder’s flexibility and mobility that make it prone to injury. The stress placed on the various components of the shoulder–muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues–can lead to your shoulder pain.
The most common shoulder injuries that lead to shoulder pain include sprains, strains, and tears. Alongside pain, individuals may also experience stiffness, restricted movements, difficulty in performing routine activities, and popping sensations.
Shoulder injuries can take many forms; sometimes an injury happens suddenly and other times they take place gradually after years of overuse. Causes of shoulder injury and pain, include:
I. Sudden (Acute) Injuries
Sudden injuries can occur at any moment, whether because of a fall on an outstretched arm, a direct blow to the shoulder, or some other abnormal movement of the shoulder. An acute shoulder injury will generally cause severe pain suddenly.
Acute injuries include:
- Pulled muscles (strains)
- Broken bones including fractures or breaks
- Separation of the shoulder
- Nerve damage
- Tendon injuries
II. Overuse Injuries
Overuse injuries occur when continued stress is placed on a specific joint or other tissue in the shoulder, often caused by repetitive activities such as sports or even manual labor. Examples of overuse injuries include:
- Muscle strain
- Frozen shoulder
III. Other Causes of Shoulder Pain
Alongside sudden injuries or overuse injuries, individuals may deal with muscle pain as a result of:
- Poor posture
- Pain from elsewhere on your body that leads to shoulder pain
- A breakdown of the cartilage in your shoulder
- Calcium buildup in the tendons of the shoulder
- Herniated discs in the neck
- Whiplash extending down to the shoulder
- Pinched nerves near the shoulder
- Infections in the bone or joints
About the Various Types of Shoulder Injuries
Torn Rotator Cuff Injuries
The rotator cuff consists of muscles and tendons joining the upper arm with the shoulder socket. Injury to this cluster of muscles and tendons can result in a dull ache in the shoulder, arm weakness, and reach issues and can worsen if the patient sleeps on the injured side.
When your shoulder joint comes out of the shoulder socket it is called a dislocation. Dislocation of the shoulder joint causes severe pain. Shoulder dislocations can lead to muscle damage or chronic conditions if not treated properly.
Soft Tissue Damage
Soft tissue injuries can also cause pain in the shoulder area. Though more common than any injury to the bone, untreated soft tissue injuries can lead to tearing and consistent pain.
Sprains and strains
Sprains and strains refer to the stretching or tearing of ligaments, muscles, or tendons. These types of shoulder injuries are common in those who play sports.
This type of injury leads to painful inflammation to tendons in the shoulder.
Another form of inflammation, bursitis directly affects the fluid-filled sac known as the brush that helps to protect joints in the shoulder.
Direct blows to the shoulder not only damage the tissues surrounding the structure but they can lead to fractures or breaks in the shoulder bones themselves.
How Our Pain Management Clinic Can Help Treat Shoulder Injuries
Our pain management doctors are excited to offer a wide range of treatments to help resolve your pain issues. Using a variety of medical pain management services, we can help to live a pain-free life once again:
Treating shoulder pain with plenty of non-narcotic medications is one of the many ways to treat your shoulder pain at its source. Our pain management clinic can help you find the right medication that relieves your pain.
Trigger Point Injections
Trigger point injections are used to relax knots of muscle in the shoulder that fail to release tension. Injections often result in an immediate alleviation of pain and may be used in several sites during the same visit.
Nerve Blocks for Treatment
A suprascapular nerve block is an injection used by a pain management specialist to numb the suprascapular nerve in the shoulder. Our pain management physician may study this region on a patient in order to plot out the best course of action.