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Shoulder Injuries

By Paul L. Liebert, MD, Attending Physician, Orthopedic Surgery, Tomah Memorial Hospital, Tomah, WI

Rotator cuff injuries (see Rotator Cuff Injury/Subacromial Bursitis) and glenoid labral tears (see Glenoid Labral Tear) are the most common shoulder injuries. For fractures of the upper arm bone, see Upper Arm Fractures.

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket type joint (so is the hip joint). The ball at the top (head) of the upper arm bone (humerus) fits into the socket of the shoulder blade (scapula), and the ball-and-socket joint allows the arm to move in all directions. The rotator cuff consists of the muscles that attach the shoulder blade to the head of the humerus. The rotator cuff strengthens the shoulder joint and helps rotate the upper arm.

Anatomy of a Shoulder Joint

The glenoid labrum is a lip of strong connective tissue at the rim of the socket of the shoulder joint. The labrum helps keep the ball securely in the socket.

When people injure their shoulder, doctors can often diagnose the problem based on the physical examination. However, sometimes x-rays or MRI is needed.

Many shoulder injuries resolve with rest followed by rehabilitation exercises. However, surgery is sometimes needed.

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