Orthopedic Surgery, Shoulder Surgery

August 25, 2016

Muscles and Bones: The Makeup of Your Shoulder Joint Pain


Several bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments form your shoulder joint. Damage to any of these parts of your shoulder joint can severely limit your mobility.

An injury, deterioration, or trauma that affects the bones, muscles, and other parts of your shoulder joint can lead to persistent pain and stiffness. If you have sore shoulder muscles or other acute shoulder pains, becoming familiar with the parts of this joint can provide you with some insight into your condition. When you know what the underlying cause is, you can look into options for shoulder pain treatment.

Shoulder Bones
Your shoulder joint has three bones: the scapula, clavicle, and humerus. The scapula is your shoulder blade, the clavicle is your collarbone, and the humerus is your upper arm bone. These bones actually form two different joints in your shoulder that help it move. The upper part of the scapula and the clavicle form the acromioclavicular joint and the top of the humerus and scapula form the glenohumeral joint.

Pain in your shoulder bones can result from a previous traumatic impact or long-term deterioration:

  • Fractures: Broken shoulder bones can cause swelling and severe pain. Shoulder pain treatment for fractures depends on their severity and location. Some minor fractures can heal on their own, while more serious fractures require surgery to fully repair the affected bone.
  • Dislocation: A dislocation happens when the ball of the humerus comes out of the socket from sudden movements, such as twisting. Treatment involves pushing the bone back into place and using a sling to hold it there. Surgery might be needed if dislocations keep occurring and there is damaged soft tissue in the affected area.

Shoulder Muscles and Tendons
Your shoulder joint contains muscles, tendons, and cartilage that provide strength, flexibility, and stability. Your rotator cuff consists of tendons and muscles that hold the humerus in place and allow you to rotate your arm. The deltoid, which is the biggest shoulder muscle, allows you to raise your arm, while the biceps tendon allows you to rotate your forearm and bend your elbow. The labrum is cartilage that covers your shoulder socket and provides stability.

Sore shoulder muscles and tendons can require minor shoulder pain treatment that ranges from those you can administer at home to a total shoulder replacement in more severe cases:

  • Tendonitis: Tendonitis occurs when your shoulder tendons become inflamed from wear and tear or overuse. Nonsurgical treatment includes rest and ice. Surgery is sometimes recommended if pain continues after 6 to 12 months.
  • Impingement: This occurs when your shoulder blade pushes on the soft tissue below it when raising your arm or moving it away from your body. Surgery, such as subacromial decompression, might be needed in severe cases of sore shoulder muscles to lower your risk of rotator cuff tears.
  • Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis can lead to chronic pain and stiffness when the cartilage that protects the ends of your shoulder bones wears away. Treatment for osteoarthritis usually involves managing pain through medications and physical therapy, but surgery, such as total shoulder replacement, might be recommended if nonsurgical treatments prove to be ineffective.
  • Rotator cuff tears: The tendons in your rotator cuff can rupture due to normal wear and tear over time or from trauma and injury. These tears can cause pain that ranges from mild to severe. The shoulder pain treatment for rotator cuff tears typically includes resting, applying heat or ice, and taking over-the-counter pain medications. When these measures are not effective, surgery for a partially torn or fully torn rotator cuff may be needed.

An experienced orthopedic surgeon can advise you on all of the shoulder pain treatment options available to you.

To regain the mobility and flexibility you have lost due to persistently sore shoulder muscles, contact Arkansas Surgical Hospital at (877) 918-7020 and set an appointment.

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