What causes shoulder pain?
Learn how acute and chronic signs and symptoms of shoulder injury are assessed.
Learn about the anatomy of the shoulder and common problems.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, about 4 million people in the U.S. seek medical care each year for shoulder sprain, strain, dislocation, or other problems. Each year, shoulder problems account for about 1.5 million visits to orthopedic surgeons—doctors who treat disorders of the bones, muscles, and related structures.
What are the structures of the shoulder and how does the shoulder function?
The shoulder joint is composed of three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone). Two joints facilitate shoulder movement. The acromioclavicular (AC) joint is located between the acromion (part of the scapula that forms the highest point of the shoulder) and the clavicle.
The glenohumeral joint, commonly called the shoulder joint, is a ball-and-socket type joint that helps move the shoulder forward and backward and allows the arm to rotate in a circular fashion or hinge out and up away from the body. (The ball is the top, rounded portion of the upper arm bone or humerus; the socket,” or glenoid, is a dish-shaped part of the outer edge of the scapula into which the ball fits.) The capsule is a soft tissue envelope that encircles the glenohumeral joint. It is lined by a thin, smooth synovial membrane.
To better understand shoulder problems and injuries, you may want to review the anatomy and function of the shoulders. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint with three main bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), collarbone (clavicle), and shoulder blade (scapula). These bones are held together by muscles (click here for pictures and information on rotator cuff muscles), tendons, and ligaments. The shoulder joint has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. Because of this mobility, the shoulder is at risk for injury and problems. The acromioclavicular (AC) joint, which lays over the top of the shoulder, is also at risk for injury.
Shoulder problems can be minor or serious and may include symptoms such as pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, weakness, or changes in temperature or color. Shoulder injuries most commonly occur during sports activities, work-related tasks, projects around the home, or falls. Home treatment often can help relieve minor aches and pains. Always consult your Doctor when questioning pain, injury or any "nagging" experience with possible injury. This and any article in our website on injury, disease or dysfunction is intended to inform - not to diagnose, treat or advise.