Shoulder injuries aren't uncommon

Fri, Nov 9, 2018

Man with right shoulder pain.

You rely on your shoulders heavily for day-to-day activities. They’re an important part of throwing a football, shoveling, lifting weights, even washing the dishes. When an injury occurs, however, you realize just how vital your shoulders are.


The shoulder is made up of three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone). There’s a joint in the shoulder where the scapula and clavicle meet, allowing for a wide range of motion.


There’s also a group of muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding the shoulder. The ligaments connect the bones in the shoulder and tendons connect the bones to the muscles.


“Your shoulder is the most flexible joint in your body because of its structure,” says Dr. Shawn Hennigan, an orthopedic surgeon with Orthopedics & Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic. “But that flexibility can easily cause it to become unstable and that can lead to injuries.”


Hennigan says common shoulder injuries include:


Rotator cuff tears: The rotator cuff is what allows you to raise and rotate your arm. It’s made up of four muscles in the upper arm. The muscles are attached to the bones by tendons and those tendons allow the muscles to move the arm. If the tendons tear, the arm won’t move as well. Rotator cuff tears are most common in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions in their jobs or sports.


Symptoms of a torn rotator cuff include tenderness or soreness in the shoulder, not being able to raise the arm, difficulty sleeping on the arm, and pain when pressure is applied on the shoulder.


Frozen shoulder: Frozen shoulder causes extreme stiffness in the shoulder joint, making it difficult to move the shoulder in any direction without pain. The risk for frozen shoulder is heightened for people who are age 40 and older, have reduced mobility of the shoulder, or have systemic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or hyperthyroidism.


Strains: Strains are commonly caused by high-impact sports and activities that involve repetitive, overhead motion. Symptoms include pain and stiffness in the shoulder, lack of strength in the shoulder, and inability to rotate the arm.


Arthritis: Shoulder arthritis occurs when the smooth surfaces of the cartilage lining the bones of the shoulder joint are worn away. The joints start to wear out and the bones rub against each other when the shoulder is moved. The most common symptom is pain. Other symptoms include a limited range of motion and painful grinding or clicking felt or heard when the shoulder is moved.


Dislocated shoulder: A dislocated shoulder occurs when your upper arm bone pops out of the socket. It can cause weakness, numbness, or tingling near the shoulder, as well as intense pain and inability to move the shoulder.


“Shoulder injury treatments vary, depending on the injury. You may need rest, a sling to keep the shoulder in place, and heat or ice. But if it’s a more serious injury, you may need surgery,” Hennigan says.


“If your shoulder is bothering you or you experience symptoms that don’t go away, make an appointment with your doctor. It’s best to get treated for a potential shoulder injury before it gets worse.”


Dr. Shawn Hennigan is an orthopedic surgeon with BayCare Clinic. He sees patients in Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay and Marinette.




About BayCare Clinic

BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in Northeast Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. With its 100-plus physicians, BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, serving clinical locations in 13 regional communities. Based in Green Bay, Wis., BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.