Shoulder pain is a very common complaint, affecting patients of all ages. Gradual wear and tear of soft tissues, or an acute injury of bones and ligaments within the joint can cause chronic pain. Shoulder pain can often be quite debilitating, interfering with all aspects of daily living. Locating the primary cause of the pain determines the type of treatment necessary to effectively eliminate the pain, and restore function and mobility to the shoulder.
The shoulder is one of the most sophisticated and complicated joints of the human body. It allows a high degree of mobility, but lacks bony and soft tissue stability. It is a ball-and-socket joint, consisting of the humeral head (ball) of the upper arm and the glenoid (socket) of the shoulder blade.
A series of four muscle tendons, known collectively as the rotator cuff (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis), surround the shoulder, keeping the humerus in its proper place. The biceps muscle in the arm also connects to the top of the shoulder joint by way of a tendon.
Rotator Cuff Tear
The rotator cuff is made up of four small muscles and tendons that help rotate and stabilize the shoulder joint. Collectively, they are used to perform overhead motions such as lifting the arms to comb your hair, dressing or reaching for an item on a top grocery shelf. The most commonly involved rotator cuff tendon is the supraspinatus. The other three tendons are subscapularis, infraspinatus and teres minor. A fluid-filled sac (the subacromial bursa) lubricates the rotator cuff tendons, allowing us to perform smooth and painless motions.
The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint – the ball being the humeral head and the socket, the glenoid. The functions of the individual rotator cuff tendons vary depending on where they attach to the humeral head. The supraspinatus tendon attaches to the top of the humeral head.
Shoulder impingement is a condition of inflammation of the tendons of the shoulder joint. It is one of the most common causes of pain in the adult shoulder. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. A ball at the top of the upper arm bone, humerus, fits neatly into a socket, called the glenoid, which is part of the shoulder blade (scapula). Shoulder impingement is also called as swimmer’s shoulder, tennis shoulder or rotator cuff tendinitis.
Impingement results from pressure on the rotator cuff from part of the shoulder blade (scapula) as the arm is lifted. It is more likely to occur in young and middle-aged people who engage in physical activities that require repeated overhead arm movements.