Your Shoulder Joint Explained

You couldn’t do much without the help of your shoulder joint. This ball-and-socket joint enables you to throw a ball, pull a box down from a shelf, stir a pot, and execute a pushup. That said, your shoulder joint is also quite complex, which means that it’s vulnerable to many injuries. 

As a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Struan Coleman can treat and repair your shoulder condition or injury with accuracy, sensitivity, and expertise gained from years of treating a diverse patient population — including pro golfers, tennis players, and baseball players.  

The shoulder: a primer

The components of your shoulder all perform different duties:

Your scapula stabilizes your humerus, while your clavicle enables a lot of your shoulder’s range of motion when your shoulder is away from your body.

In addition to the joint itself, your shoulder comprises muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.

Ligaments are made of tough, fibrous connective tissue. Shoulder ligaments, like all ligaments, connect bones to bones. Your shoulder has four main ligaments that stabilize it.

Tendons are also sturdy connective tissue bands, but they attach muscle to bone, enabling your muscles to contract in order to fuel movement in your bones. You have about 20 muscles that support your shoulder. They give it the ability to rotate and move in many different directions. 

The ends of all the bones in your body contain cartilage: smooth, thick, protective tissue that allows your shoulder to move in many ways. The labrum is cartilage that’s shaped like a cup and lines your shoulder’s ball-and-socket. It supports this joint, and your rotator cuff tendons and muscles. 

Shoulder injuries, conditions, and solutions

Shoulder injuries are usually associated with a traumatic injury or long-term wear and tear, like the type brought on by osteoarthritis. 

Dr. Coleman approaches many shoulder problems with conservative approaches first, including corticosteroid injections, pain medication, and rest. 

Rotator cuff repair

Your rotator cuff is made of tendons and muscles that keep the ball-like humerus head in your shoulder socket. It allows you to raise your arms above your head, for example. 

Rotator cuff injuries are quite common and there are many types. Rotator cuff tears, for example, can result from a shoulder dislocation, a collarbone break, or even lifting something incorrectly, but most often it’s the result of degeneration. 

To mend a torn rotator cuff, Dr. Coleman can surgically reattach your tendon to your upper humerus, and remove stray remnants of tendon and/or bursa. Bursae are sacs filled with fluid that lessen friction between joint components. 

Surgery also lessens compression within your shoulder joint when your surgeon removes bone and bone spurs, making it easier for you to move your rotator cuff.

Shoulder arthroscopy 

Whenever he can, Dr. Coleman employs minimally invasive surgical methods to correct shoulder problems. Unlike traditional open surgery, this technique requires just a few small incisions, is typically an outpatient procedure, and involves less pain and bleeding for the patient, as well as a lower likelihood of infection and speedier recovery. 

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that has two steps. First, Dr. Coleman assesses your shoulder using an arthroscopy, a long, narrow surgical instrument with a small camera on one end that allows him to look closely at your shoulder joint. 

The second part of the procedure is the repair step, when Dr. Coleman mitigates problems that limit your movement, cause pain, and weaken your shoulder.  This surgery is ideal for many shoulder issues, including osteoarthritis-related pain, frozen shoulder, damaged labrum, bone spur removal, and shoulder impingement.

Shoulder replacement surgery

If you need surgery to replace a badly degenerated — and usually quite painful — scapula or humerus bone, shoulder replacement may be necessary. This is when Dr. Coleman swaps your damaged-beyond-repair bones with “bionic” plastic and metal replacement parts, fully connecting them. 

Athletes and longtime osteoarthritis sufferers often need this treatment.

Before Dr. Coleman embarks on performing a shoulder replacement for you, he gets the best view he can of what’s going on in your shoulder through imaging tests. 

Post-operative care for all of these procedures often includes using arm stabilizing tools like slings, and physical therapy. 

Even though your shoulder is prone to injury and wear and tear, Dr. Coleman offers diverse treatment solutions that can get you back to doing the things you enjoy again — with a full range of pain-free movement.

Call the office most convenient to you to set up a consultation if you’re experiencing shoulder pain and immobility, or use our convenient online booking tool. 

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