Your shoulder’s anatomy is made up of many different muscles, joints, and tendons, which places it at risk for many kinds of injuries and types of pain. Some of the most common shoulder conditions include:
- Broken collarbone – Also known as a clavicle fracture, a broken collarbone is typically caused by a direct hit to the shoulder, like from a fall or car accident. Symptoms include pain and difficulty moving or lifting the arm. Non-surgical treatments for a broken collarbone include physical therapy and the use of a sling. Sometimes, surgery is needed to hold the bone fragments in place with screws, plates, or pins.
- Bursitis – Bursitis occurs when the bursa (a small sac located between the top of the shoulder and the rotator cuff) becomes inflamed. This condition can include symptoms like tenderness, stiffness, and pain in your shoulder. Non-surgical treatments for bursitis include steroid injections, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medication. Sometimes, surgery is needed to remove the inflamed part of the bursa.
- Rotator cuff tears – A rotator cuff tear can occur from an excess of overhead motions, like painting or playing baseball. The rotator cuff is what encompasses the shoulder joint and keeps the upper arm in its socket. The pain will usually worsen with movement, and therefore usually requires physical therapy or surgery to re-attach or smooth the tear.
- Shoulder fracture – A shoulder fracture is break in the bone, typically caused by a direct blow to the shoulder. The result can be swelling, pain, bruising, difficulty moving, a grinding sensation when moving the shoulder, and swelling around the collarbone. Non-surgical treatments for a shoulder fracture include icing, pain medications, and the use of a sling. For some cases, surgery is needed to hold the bones in place to allow healing.
- Shoulder instability – Shoulder instability occurs when your shoulder is repeatedly dislocated, often accompanied by pain and a consistent sensation of the shoulder being loose. Strain or a sudden injury can result in shoulder instability. Non-surgical treatments include physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, and activity modification. Sometimes, surgery is needed to repair the ligaments to help the shoulder stay in place.
- Tendon tears – Tendons for your biceps, which attach bone to muscle, are located near the shoulder. Injury or overuse can result in tears for these tendons, which can cause pain and weakness in the shoulder and arm. Non-surgical treatments are usually sufficient for minor tears and can include rest and physical therapy. For complete tears, surgery might be necessary to repair the tear.