Shoulder Pain and Problems

The shoulder is made up of several bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Shoulder pain may be localized in one area or may spread to areas around the shoulder or down the arm. The most common shoulder problems include the following:

  • Labral injury
  • Osteoarthritis (glenohumeral, AC joint)
  • Bursitis (subacromial)
  • Ligament injury or tear
  • Muscle injury
  • Dislocation/subluxation
  • Instability
  • Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder)
  • Rotator cuff impingement
  • Hypermobility
  • Tendinopathy/tendon tear (rotator cuff, biceps tendon)
  • Overuse injury
  • Nerve conditions
  • Bone injury/fracture
  • Congenital/alignment abnormalities

Causes of Shoulder Problems

Although the shoulder is the most movable joint in the body, it is also an unstable joint because of its range of motion. Because the ball of the upper arm is larger than the socket of the shoulder, it is susceptible to injury. The shoulder joint must also be supported by soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and ligaments) which are also subject to injury, overuse, and underuse.

Degenerative conditions and other diseases in the body may also contribute to shoulder problems or may cause pain that travels along nerves to the shoulder.

Diagnosing Shoulder Problems

In addition to taking a complete medical history and performing a physical exam, your doctor may order any of the following tests to diagnose a shoulder problem:

  • X-ray
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan)
  • Electromyogram/nerve condition (EMG/NCV) to check nerve and muscle function
  • Ultrasound
  • Laboratory tests,¬†if needed

Treatments for Shoulder Problems

Your doctor will work with you to determine the best treatment plan based on your age, overall health, and medical history; the severity of your condition; and your tolerance for certain medications, procedures, or therapies.

Treatment for your shoulder problem may include activity modification, exercise, physical therapy, medications, pain management techniques, injections, or surgery.

Why Choose Columbia for Shoulder Care

Our physicians are highly skilled in diagnosing and treating shoulder conditions. We perform a thorough diagnostic evaluation to find the cause of your pain and plan the most conservative treatment possible, which may include exercise, lifestyle changes, medications, and if needed, injections or other pain management techniques. Our physicians may use imaging to guide injections so the medication is placed precisely. If a shoulder condition does not improve, we work closely with Columbia orthopedic surgeons for cases that require a procedure.