When discussing the orthopaedic conditions that can involve the shoulder, it is helpful to consider the problems or symptoms as experienced by the individual.
Pain is the commonest symptom experienced by patients. It is very often due to inflammation of the important shoulder tendons (the pulleys that connect the shoulder muscles to the shoulder bones). It gives rise to pain typically felt over the shoulder or in the upper arm with movement – especially movement of the arm away from the side of the body, stretching and with twisting movements of the arm (putting one’s arm through the sleeve of a jacket). Pain is also seen with arthritis, in the early phases of a Frozen Shoulder (also known as Adhesive Capsulitis) and with certain types of shoulder instability.
Pain on movement is often confused by doctors with stiffness. There is a subtle, but very important difference between a reluctance to lift one’s arm because it hurts to do so and with an inability to raise the arm because of stiffness. Restricted movement is often due to a frozen shoulder or arthritis.
Although compression of nerves passing to the shoulder because of arthritis in the cervical spine or stretching of nerves following a shoulder dislocation can give rise to weakness, most cases are due to damage and consequently failure of the important tendons passing across the shoulder joint. Tendon rupture can occur following an accident and as the end result of prolonged shoulder tendon inflammation (Rotator Cuff disease or Subacromial Impingement).
If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms please contact the South West’s orthopaedic experts, we specialise in the diagnosis, treatment and surgery of the shoulder.