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Common Injuries of the Shoulder Joint


In my last post, we talked at length about the anatomy of the shoulder. Here’s great way to see how all of these joints work together, in a more function and less boring way!


Sit up tall in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Tuck your chin to your chest and draw your chest upwards and outwards. Sweep your hands from your sides, forwards and upwards while you simultaneously shrug your shoulders towards your ears, and arch your back forward, pushing out your chest. Look up! I’m sure you’re able to reach quite high!


Now, sit in the same chair, but hunch forward in the worst imaginable posture. Now, try to sweep your hands from your sides, forward and upward as you did in the last scenario. This time, do not shrug your shoulders or sit up tall. Notice how much more difficult it was to reach high? We just removed the mobility from the thoracic spine and shoulder blade, and relied solely on the Glenohumeral Joint itself. When we do this, it is next to impossible to accomplish the same range of motion.

When we are restricted in one of these three main areas, we can see a breakdown in function, and ultimately, pain can be the result.


Some common injuries of the shoulder include:


Frozen Shoulder: AKA Adhesive Capsulitis is inflammation of the joint capsule, resulting in pain and limited motion. This can last for months, or even over a year before full recovery is accomplished. This can be caused by sustaining an initial injury to the shoulder, resulting in hesitancy to move or inflammation of the tissue, which can result in a “freezing up” of the shoulder capsule.

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome: a “pinching” of the muscular tissue that passes over the shoulder joint due to limited joint space in the shoulder. This can be due to a lack of movement in the thoracic spine or shoulder blade, causing over compensation at the shoulder joint, resulting in a pinching of the tissue.

Shoulder Dislocation: Because the shoulder is the most mobile joint in our body, it is also the most unstable. The shoulder joint is a ‘Ball and Socket’ Joint. Meaning the head of the long arm bone is shaped like a ball that fits into a deep, round socket on the shoulder blade. This allows for movement in all directions. However, because there is more room for movement, there is more room for error. The shoulder is therefore more susceptible to dislocation than many other joints in the body.

Rotator Cuff Sprain/Tear: Trauma to the soft tissue surrounding the shoulder joint is also quite common, due to the reasons above. With increased mobility of a joint, we also see more opportunity for trauma to the joint which, of course, would include the soft tissues surrounding the joint. This most commonly includes the rotator cuff muscles. These four muscles help to hold the joint in place, adding much needed stability. The four rotator cuff muscles are Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor and Subscapularis.

If your shoulder gives you trouble here and there throughout the day, or while you’re doing specific activities, reach out! Let’s get it fixed. Physiotherapy can help diagnose and treat your shoulder pain!

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