Shoulder Conditions Q & A

What Causes Shoulder Conditions?

The shoulder joint is  comprised of three bones, the scapula (shoulder blade), the clavicle (collar bone) and the humerus (upper arm bone). The muscles that attach these three bony structures in place are the subscapularis, infraspinatus, teres minor and the supraspinatus (collectively called the rotator cuff). In addition, there are numerous tendons and ligaments that surround the shoulder and the rotator cuff to allow for the humerus to be concealed within the socket of the scapula. These structures make up the shoulder, a complex joint that enables great mobility and flexibility. Though the joint with most mobility in the entire body, the shoulders are prone to multiple types of conditions. Most of the shoulder conditions usually fall under these major categories: Bursitis, Tendinopathy (Tendinitis and Tendinosis), Impingement, Tendon Tears, fractures and Arthritis.

  1. Bursitis- Occurs when the bursa or fluid between the joints becomes inflamed. Upon movement bursa allows for bones to move with reduced friction. Bursitis can be caused through excessive use of the shoulders.
  2. Tendinopathy: Tendinitis occurs when a tendon attaching a muscles to a bone becomes irritated or inflamed. Tendinosis-sometimes called chronic tendinitis, chronic tendinopathy, or chronic tendon injury, is damage to a tendon at a cellular level (the suffix “osis” implies a pathology of chronic degeneration without inflammation). Like bursitis, tendinopathy is also commonly caused through repetitive stress to the shoulder or strenuous lifting. Tendinopathy may be caused by certain medications (antibiotics) as well.
  3. Impingement- Occurs if the shoulder blade applies excessive pressure, due to poor mechanics,  on the tissues that is underlying the shoulder. Impingements usually occur when the arm is lifted above the head or in front of the body. Impingement can be interconnected to other conditions previously mentioned (bursitis and tendinitis).
  4. Tendon Tears– Tendon tears can be partially or completely split from the bone and may have different causes for tears ranging from chronic tendinitis, to  a fall,  to lifting heavy weights incorrectly.
  5. Osteoarthritis – This is a degenerative condition that naturally occurs as we age. With time osteoarthritis will gradually worsens and is more commonly associated with elderly patients.
  6. Fractures – May result from traumatic injuries to the shoulder bony structures (humerus, scapula or clavicle).  A fracture will have an impact on the entire shoulder as the bio-mechanics of the shoulder will be altered during and after the healing process of the fracture.

The majority of these shoulder conditions can be related to improper or over usage of the shoulder joint. Any type of previous injuries surrounding this region can also increase ones chances of obtaining any of these shoulder conditions.

What are the Symptoms of Shoulder Conditions?

Symptoms of these shoulder condition may include the following:

-pain with movement of the shoulders or arm

-Lack of mobility of the joint. Sometime leading to complete loss of shoulder                              mobility (frozen shoulder).



-redness may also be present.

How are Shoulder Conditions Treated?

At RestoreRehab Physical Therapy, our therapist will conduct a thorough examination of your shoulder and design an individualized  treatment plan tailored specifically to you. Initially, the primary focus in rehabilitation is to reduce inflammation. This may include range-of-motion exercises, stretching exercises and  ice/cold therapy. When inflammation has subsided or is significantly reduced, your exercise program will be progressed to more intensive exercise program. Your program specifically designed for you will  be gradually progressed. At RestoreRehab Physical Therapy, we incorporate the Pilates Method on the apparatus as one of our mains forms of treatment. This type of exercising technique is effective in developing  and regaining strength, coordination and control of the shoulder musculature thereby allowing you to get back your daily activities more quickly.