Shoulder Injuries


The shoulder is one of the most important parts of the human body. Being one of the largest and the most complex joints in the body, the shoulder is essential for some of the most basic functions of human life. For instance, the shoulder is responsible for the flexibility of the arm in all possible directions up and down, left and right, etc. Even a small shoulder injury to the shoulder muscle or the tendons can impact one’s life and limit the flexibility in your life to a large extent. Therefore, it is crucial that you take care of your shoulder and shoulder injuries.


The Primary Function Of The Shoulders


To understand the importance of your shoulders in your daily life, it is essential that you understand the primary and secondary functions of the joints. The shoulder has groupings of muscles that are attached to the scapula, humerus, and clavicle; forming the outer shape of the shoulder and underarm. These muscles collectively protect the shoulder joint and are the reason behind a wide range of movement such as

  • The shoulder helps in the lifting and lowering of the upper arm.
  • Straighten the arm.
  • Helps in the rotation of the upper arm.
  • Helps the arms rotate and move away/ closer to the body.


Common Types of Shoulder Injuries Seen In Our Practice


To keep your shoulders in good shape, you must be aware of some of the common types of shoulder Injuries or shoulder problems and what causes them. Below are some commonly occurring shoulder Injury conditions.

  • Shoulder sprains and strains – A strain is a shoulder injury or muscle injury where the muscle is overstretched or torn. A sprain is a tearing or stretching of a ligament, which is a fibrous tissue connecting two bones.
  • Frozen Shoulder – Also known as adhesive capsulitis. This is a disorder where the connective tissue surrounding the glenohumeral joint becomes stiff and inflamed. If allowed to progress, this can result in progressively worsening chronic pains and restrictions in the shoulder range of motion.
  • Osteoarthritis – Referred to as the common “wear and tear” arthritis. This shoulder condition occurs when the cartilage covering at the end of the bones wears down over time.

Osteoarthritis - shoulder injury - Stephen S. Chen-MD

  • Rotator cuff tear – A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and provide strength and stability during motion. Damage to these tendons or muscles can occur from a sudden shoulder injury or steady overuse.
  • Shoulder dislocation – This injury occurs when the humerus (arm) bone pops out of the cup-shaped shoulder socket. This is usually from an acute shoulder injury such as a hard fall or collision.
  • Shoulder bursitis – Bursas are small sacs of fluid resting between tissues such as muscle, bone, and tendons which are located in different areas of the body. Bursitis is inflammation or irritation of these bursa sacs. This often occurs due to overhead activities or pressure on the upper arms, causing inflammation and extreme pain.
  • Little League Shoulder – This is a shoulder overuse injury caused by stress to the arm bone resulting in the widening of the growth plate. This commonly occurs in youth overhand pitchers between the ages of 11 and 16.


How Is The Cause Of Shoulder Pain or Shoulder Injuries Diagnosed?


First and most important is a good thorough medical history intake and a physical exam.

Imaging tests can also help with shoulder Injury diagnosis.

  • X-Ray – X-rays use radiation in the form of electromagnetic waves of high energy to pass to create pictures of the inside of your body. X-rays show bones well and can help us identify things such as fractures. It is also very helpful in identifying things such as dislocations. It can also help us identify signs of osteoarthritis.

Shoulder Injuries Diagnosed - Stephen S. Chen, MD

  • MRI Scan – MRI scans use large magnets and radio waves to look at structures inside your body with great detail. It is a helpful imaging study to visualize soft tissues such as muscles and ligaments, as well as give an additional evaluation of bones.
  • CT Scan – A CT scan is an imaging tool that combines x-rays with computer technology to produce a detailed cross-sectional image of your body. In our field, it is helpful sometimes for further evaluation of bony structures.
  • Ultrasound – Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves that echo off the body. It is a non-invasive study that does not use any radiation. It is used in-office to help with the diagnosis of some musculoskeletal conditions.


Treatment For Shoulder Injuries


There are many treatment options for shoulder pain or shoulder injuries. However, the treatment option varies depending on multiple factors such as age, injury, medical history, etc.

  • RICE therapy – RICE is a form of self-treatment or can be done under the guidance of trained physiotherapists. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. This therapy can help improve pain and swelling of many shoulder injuries.
  • Heat therapy – Heat can help relax tense muscles and soothe a stiff shoulder. You can use a heating pad or hot water bottle.
  • Physical therapy – Manual therapy and a special exercise routine planned by a physiotherapist, keeping the condition of the patient in mind, can help strengthen the shoulder muscles and improve their flexibility.
  • Medication – Over the counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help ease the pain. Stronger pain medications and muscle relaxers can also be of help temporarily.
  • Steroid injections – Steroid injections, usually in conjunction with physical therapy, can be helpful to reduce inflammation and overall pain.
  • Surgery – If conservative treatment does not work, surgery may be needed. Sometimes surgery needs to be considered sooner depending on the injury itself.


Stephen S. Chen, MD- Sports Medicine Doctor can help you evaluate and treat your shoulder injury and pain. Contact us using our phone number 925-934-3536 or email us at to book an appointment.

Shoulder Pain and Injuries - Stephen S. Chen, MD