The shoulder joins the arm to the trunk and is the most mobile, yet unstable joint in the body.
The ‘shoulder complex’ is actually made up of 4 joints
- The shoulder joint itself known as the Glenohumeral joint. This is a ball and socket type of joint between the head of the upper arm bone or humerus and the glenoid cavity of the scapula or shoulder blade.
- The acromioclavicular (AC) joint is where the clavicle or collar bone meets the acromion of the shoulder blade.
- The sternoclavicular (SC) joint is where the clavicle (collar bone) meets the chest bone or sternum.
- The scapulothoracic joint is where the shoulder blade meets with the ribs at the back of the chest.
The shoulder joints rely on a complex, synchronised pattern of muscle and joint interaction to maintain stability and function of the whole arm.
This excessive mobility is its main weakness, causing it to become easily injured through trauma or overuse.
Here are some of the most common shoulder area injuries and problems we tend to see
- Rotator cuff injuries and tendonopathies
- Shoulder impingement or subacromial impingement
- Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis
- Muscle and ligament tears
- Tendon problems such as biceps tendonopathy
- Traumatic shoulder dislocation
- Recurrent shoulder dislocation
- Fractures of the humerus or collar bone
- Acromioclavicular joint sprains
- Sternocalvicular joint sprains
Shoulder injuries are often associated with certain sports such as swimming or tennis, where a large degree of shoulder flexibility is required, along with repetitive and large movements. The shoulder is prone to overuse injuries.
It can also suffer a wide range of traumatic injuries, such as fractures, dislocations, sprains and tears as a result of a fall, impact or collision during sport or every day life.
There are many physiotherapy treatments that can help with shoulder problems. We always start by carrying out a thorough assessment to find out exactly what’s going on with your shoulder. Once this is established, you’ll start a comprehensive rehabilitation programme. This may be a combination of hands on treatments such as soft tissue work, taping, trigger point release, mobilisations or acupuncture and a big focus on exercises to regain strength, flexibility and endurance in your shoulder. A crucial part of recovery from a shoulder injury is making sure all the joints and muscles are working well together, a key part in preventing any future problems.