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Common Injuries


Maj Spencer
The way the shoulder is designed gives it great mobility, but also makes it vulnerable to injury. Captain Laydon, can you tell us more about some common shoulder injuries?

Capt Laydon
Absolutely, Major Spencer. One common shoulder injury is dislocation. Dislocation occurs when the ball at the top of the bone in the upper arm, or humerus, pops out of the socket. It can happen if the shoulder is twisted or pulled very hard. Once a shoulder is dislocated, it’s more likely to happen again. This is particularly common in young, active people.

Another common shoulder injury is called a separation. A shoulder separation occurs when the acromioclavicular, or AC, and coracoclavicular, or CC, ligaments, which connect the collarbone to the shoulder blade, are torn. The cause of this injury is usually a blow to the shoulder or a fall onto your outstretched hand.

Two other common shoulder problems include tendinitis and bursitis. These conditions can occur alone or simultaneously. In tendinitis of the shoulder, the tendons become red and swollen from being pinched by another part of the shoulder. This inflammation can be extremely uncomfortable.

Bursitis occurs when the bursal sacs, small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the shoulder joint, become inflamed. Bursitis can be caused by disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Bursitis is also sometimes caused by athletic activities that overuse the shoulder or by jobs that involve reaching overhead on a regular basis.

Another fairly common shoulder injury is called a rotator cuff tear. Rotator cuff tendons can become inflamed because of overuse, and sometimes they can be injured from a fall on your outstretched hand or due to some athletic activities. Jobs involving repetitive overhead motion can also damage the rotator cuff. Aging causes tendons to wear down, which can also lead to a tear. Some tears are not painful, while others can be very painful.

Finally, one or more of the bones in the shoulder can suffer a fracture, which is a crack through part or all of a bone. In the shoulder, a fracture usually involves the clavicle or humerus. Fractures are often caused by a fall or a blow to the shoulder.