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The shoulder is extremely complex, with a design that provides maximum mobility and range of motion. Besides big lifting jobs, the shoulder joint is also responsible for getting the hand in the right position for any function.
When you realize all the different ways and positions we use our hands every day, it is easy to understand how hard daily life can be when the shoulder isn’t working well.Make An Appointment
Shoulder instability means that the shoulder joint is too loose and is able to slide around too much in the socket. In some cases, the unstable shoulder actually slips out of the socket. If the shoulder slips completely out of the socket, it has become dislocated. If not treated, instability can lead to arthritis of the shoulder joint.
A shoulder dislocation is a painful and disabling injury of the glenohumeral joint. Most dislocations are anterior (forward) but the shoulder can dislocate posteriorly (backwards). Inferior dislocations are possible but occur much less often. The specific type of dislocation is based on the position of the humeral head in relation to the glenoid (shoulder socket) at the time of the diagnosis.
Since orthopedic surgeons began using a tiny TV camera called an arthroscope to diagnose and treat shoulder problems, they have discovered several conditions that no one knew existed. One of these conditions is an injury to a small structure in the shoulder called the labrum. A labral tear can cause pain and a catching sensation in the shoulder. Labral tears can be very difficult to diagnose.
A shoulder separation is a fairly common injury, especially in certain sports. Most shoulder separations are actually injuries to the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. The AC joint is the connection between the scapula (shoulder blade) and the clavicle (collarbone). Shoulder dislocations and AC joint separations are often mistaken for each other. But they are very different injuries.
AC joint separations are graded from mild to severe, depending on which ligaments are sprained or torn. The mildest type of injury is a simple sprain of the AC ligaments. Doctors call this a grade one injury. A grade two AC separation involves a tear of the AC ligaments and a sprain of the coracoclavicular ligaments. A complete tear of the AC ligaments and the coracoclavicular ligaments is a grade three AC separation. This injury results in the obvious bump on the shoulder.
Some joints in the body are more likely to develop problems from normal wear and tear. Degeneration causes the cartilage that cushions the joint to wear out. This type of arthritis is called osteoarthritis. Doctors sometimes refer to this type of arthritis as arthrosis.
The acromioclavicular (AC) joint in the shoulder is a common spot for osteoarthritis to develop in middle age. Degeneration of the AC joint can be painful and can cause difficulty using the shoulder for everyday activities.
Adhesive capsulitis, also called frozen shoulder, is a painful condition. It results in a severe loss of motion in the shoulder. It may follow an injury, or it may arise gradually with no injury or warning.
In frozen shoulder, inflammation in the joint makes the normally loose parts of the joint capsule stick together. This seriously limits the shoulder’s ability to move, and causes the shoulder to freeze.
Once your shoulder is moving better, treatment is directed toward shoulder strengthening and function. These exercises focus on the rotator cuff and shoulder blade muscles. Your therapist will help you retrain these muscles to help keep the ball of the humerus centered in the socket. This lets your shoulder move smoothly during all your activities.
The therapist’s goal is to help you regain shoulder motion, strength, and function. When you are well under way, regular visits to the therapist’s office will end. Your therapist will continue to be a resource, but you will be in charge of doing your exercises as part of an ongoing home program.