Shoulder injuries are common. Your shoulder is designed to allow your arm to move in many directions, but this added flexibility makes the joint more susceptible to injury. These conditions can occur as a result of activities that involve repetitive and extensive arm motion, such as swimming, swinging or throwing.
At El Camino Health, our orthopedic team is experienced in diagnosing and treating a wide range of shoulder injuries. Our goal is to relieve your shoulder pain and help you regain a full range of movement.
Common shoulder injuries include:
- Bursitis. Swelling and irritation of the bursa, a fluid-filled cushion between muscles, tendons and bones.
- Tendonitis. Swelling and inflammation in the tendons that connect shoulder muscles and bones.
- Shoulder impingement syndrome (rotator cuff tendonitis). Compressed or worn rotator cuff tendons. The rotator cuff consists of muscles and tendons that control shoulder motion. Shoulder impingement can lead to a torn rotator cuff.
- Rotator cuff tears. Partial tears can be caused by trauma, swelling, impingement or bone spurs at the shoulder joint. Full tears can result from heavy lifting, an injury or gradual development.
- Dislocation. A sudden shoulder injury or overuse can cause your shoulder to become unstable, causing the head of your upper arm bone to be forced out of your shoulder socket, either partially or completely.
- Broken arm (humerus). A broken humerus is often caused by an accident or other trauma. Osteoporosis, which typically occurs in older people, can weaken bones and make them break more easily.
- Injuries caused by arthritis. Degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can destroy the shoulder joint and surrounding tissue, causing chronic pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis can cause the joint’s surface to wear out, and rheumatoid arthritis can cause swelling and damage to the joint’s inner lining. These diseases can also cause degeneration and tearing of the shoulder capsule and rotator cuff.
At El Camino Health, orthopedic doctors often use minimally invasive arthroscopy to diagnose and treat shoulder disorders. An arthroscope — a thin, lighted, optic tube — is inserted into the joint through a small incision, which transmits high-definition images of the inside of the joint to a monitor. This procedure can locate degenerative or arthritic areas in the joint or detect other potential causes of pain and swelling, such as bone disease or tumors.
In most cases, doctors will try conservative methods — such as medication, activity changes and physical therapy — to relieve shoulder pain. If nonsurgical measures fail, most shoulder problems can be repaired through surgery. Your options may include minimally invasive arthroscopy procedures or traditional surgery.
Depending on your condition and the severity of your pain, nonsurgical treatments may include rest and medication, including pain and anti-inflammatory medicines, as well as cortisone or other injections to ease pain and swelling.
If the pain is so severe that you’re unable to move your arm normally, your doctor may recommend shoulder surgery. Surgery can involve replacing just the head of the bone or the entire joint.
Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery
Just as your doctor can use minimally invasive shoulder arthroscopy to diagnose your shoulder pain, he or she can use this same approach to repair any problems. The procedure is typically done on an outpatient basis, so no overnight stay is required.
In some cases — especially if you have extensive shoulder damage — you may need traditional, open surgery. It's generally a more complicated procedure that requires larger incisions and may also require an overnight stay in the hospital.
Orthopedic surgeons at El Camino Health have developed some unique techniques that combine elements of arthroscopy and open surgery. Because each person and shoulder injury is unique, your surgeon will discuss the most appropriate options available for your condition.
Time to Return to Health
- Call your doctor to schedule elective surgeries and procedures.
- For questions, please call 408-866-3982 (Los Gatos) or 650-962-4914 (Mountain View).