Our Great Lakes Orthopaedic Center (GLOC) specialists here in Northern Michigan tend to see and treat a lot of shoulder injuries in the warmer months. Why? The bodily actions involving the shoulder and triggering these injuries—the repetitive, intensive, excessive, overhead-motion ones—increase with the warm-weather sports- and work-related activities.
Warm-Weather Activities That Can Provoke Shoulder Injuries
Naturally, anyone can sustain a shoulder injury doing anything, and at any time of the year. But during the warmer months, many of the following sports, jobs, and activities tend to pick up, so proportionately we notice the number of these injuries picking up as well:
• Baseball (especially pitching)
• Washing walls
• Paper hanging
Types of Shoulder Injuries
Overall, shoulder injuries include muscles, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons, rather than the bones. With sports injuries, we do see some bone fractures, but typically most shoulder injuries involve the other shoulder components.
Again, shoulder injuries are usually a result of repetitive and intensive actions, with overhead motion. The majority of our shoulder-injury patients who visit us at GLOC in the warm-weather months come in with sports-related injuries, as athletes are most susceptible.
You can imagine a baseball pitcher repeatedly throwing a ball, a construction worker repeatedly reaching for heights or lifting materials overhead, or a swimmer repeatedly lifting each arm for swim strokes. These excessive types of actions can result in either a gradual injury or a sudden one.
Many people attempt to ignore the pain of a shoulder injury and attempt to play or work through it. Do not do this. We highly discourage this bravado, as it usually only aggravates the injury and may even induce more problems.
The most frequent types of injuries our shoulder specialists diagnose and treat at this time of year are:
Rotator Cuff Tear and Tendinitis. Your rotator cuff is made up of four muscles joining together in your shoulder via tendons. This oft-injured rotator cuff connects your humerus, or the long bone of your upper arm, to your scapula, or your shoulder blade, stabilizing your shoulder and giving it the high versatility and range of motion it offers you.
A rotator cuff tear typically happens during a single-incident trauma or over time because of repetitive overuse. If you have a tear, usual symptoms are mild or severe pain in your shoulder while resting or using it, weakness when trying to lift your arm or rotate it, or a crackling feeling when trying to move your shoulder in a specific way.
Another rotator cuff injury, called tendinitis or impingement, typically develops by your shoulder muscles rubbing excessively against the top part of your scapula, or your acromion, from overhead arm motion. This causes inflammation or irritation in your tendons.
Dislocated Shoulder and Shoulder Instability. Your shoulder’s main joint has a ball-and-socket structure, accounting for it being the most mobile joint in your body, offering the highest range of motion. Unfortunately, the trade-off for this high mobility is instability and vulnerability.
If you have a dislocated shoulder, this means the round part of your humerus, your humeral head, is forced out of your shoulder’s socket. Your dislocation can occur in several directions—anterior (forward) dislocation, posterior (backward) dislocation, or inferior (downward) location. Common symptoms are a feeling of your shoulder popping or rolling out of your socket, immediate and severe pain, numbness and weakness, muscle spasms, shoulder mobility decrease or cessation, and bruising or swelling.
A shoulder instability injury is similar to a dislocated shoulder as your muscles, ligaments, and tendons no longer hold your shoulder joint together. In this type of injury, your humeral head can completely come out from your socket or only partially come out, or subluxate. Characterized symptoms are very similar to those of a dislocated shoulder.
SLAP Tear. A SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior) tear is a tear to the labrum, the ring of cartilage surrounding your shoulder’s socket. This tear occurs in the superior (top), anterior (front), and posterior (back) of the area where your biceps tendon attaches to your labrum. SLAP tears tend to develop more gradually over time from these same repetitive, overhead motions. The most common symptoms are a decrease in both strength and range of motion, a popping or catching sensation, pain with specific motions, and difficulty with lifting.
Frozen Shoulder. Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is another injury that develops over time from repetitive motions. As its name suggests, this injury limits movement in your shoulder, worsening over time, usually moving through three stages. Inflammation develops causing both pain and stiffness. Prominent symptoms for this injury include shoulder pain upon raising your arm and decreased range of motion.
Shoulder Injury Treatment
All of these injuries require treatment by one of our orthopaedic specialists. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may need anything from surgical care to exercise and therapy. If you experience shoulder pain caused by a strong or violent impact or you feel something pop in your shoulder, we highly recommend you seeing one of our board-certified orthopaedic physicians as soon as possible. If your shoulder injury exhibits visible swelling, redness, bruising, or continual or severe pain, you should see us immediately.
Call Us for Your Shoulder Injury
At GLOC, we successfully treat many of these shoulder injuries on a regular basis, though we do see an increase now that warmer weather is finally here in Michigan. Our shoulder specialists have more than the necessary experience, knowledge, and technology to diagnose and treat your injury. We also really care about you. Call us at 800.203.0044 today.