As far as joints go, the shoulder is very closely fitted into its socket. Because of its close fit, the archway between bones and ligaments in the shoulder are prone to inflammation, especially if the shoulder is overused. In extreme cases, as a response to the inflammation the body may develop scar tissue or calcific deposits that require removal. In less extreme instances, the person may develop shoulder bursitis (when the bursa becomes inflamed and painful) or tendinitis (when the tendons or surrounding tissue become inflamed, swollen, and tender).
Shoulder bursitis and tendinitis are overuse injuries that often affect athletes that use their arms in repeated overhead motions. For instance, baseball players, football quarterbacks, tennis players, and swimmers often suffer from shoulder overuse injury. The pain typically occurs at the tip of the shoulder and can run down the deltoid muscle into the upper arm. Other causes of shoulder pain include:
- Bone spur – Extra bone tissue in the shoulder rubs against a tendon, nerve, or other bone, causing loss of movement and pain.
- Impingement syndrome – A shoulder muscle, tendon, and busar sac rub against the shoulder blade. Impingement syndrome often develops in conjunction with tendinitis. It can also result from poor posture.
- Tear (both partial and full-thickness) – Gradual weakening of the shoulder tendons lead to micro tears that eventually develop into full-thickness tears.
Below are 10 signs that your shoulder pain is the result of a shoulder overuse injury like bursitis or tendinitis.
- The shoulder pain is persistent and occurs even when the arm is not in use.
- The pain feels more like a lasting, dull ache rather than a sharp pain.
- The pain occurs as a gradual onset.
- You don’t have history of a direct injury to the shoulder area.
- You experience stiffness or aching after or during competition or training.
- There is tenderness at one point in the shoulder.
- You are missing training sessions due to the severity of the pain in your shoulder.
- There is visible swelling in the shoulder area.
- The amount of time for the pain to dissipate increases.
- Loss of motion in the shoulder.
Your shoulders and shoulder joints are important parts of your body and should be monitored with care. If you feel that you may be at risk of overusing your shoulders and developing a shoulder overuse injury, reevaluate your day-to-day activity. A shoulder overuse injury can often be prevented with rest, rehabilitation, and a new approach to activity.
Dr. Stacie Grossfeld has over 10 years of experience as an orthopedic surgeon including various types of shoulder surgery. If you would like more information on shoulder overuse injury and recovery, contact Orthopaedic Specialists today at 502-212-2663.