Rotator Cuff Tears

Injuries to the tendons (the rotator cuff) that surround the ball and socket joint of the shoulder can occur from an acute injury or repetitive shoulder motion. They can be full thickness or partial.

Shoulder dislocations

When the ball and socket joint dislocates, it can tear the cartilage O-ring of tissue around the socket as well as the ligaments that surround and stabilize the joint. A dislocation may also result in a fracture. Shoulder instability may also be due to extremely lax ligaments. A dislocation may make the shoulder vulnerable to future dislocations.

Labrum tears

The labrum (cartilage O-ring) around the shoulder socket may tear as a result of a dislocation or repetitive activity. Often, the top part of the labrum tears. In this area, the injury is called a SLAP tear. This may require physical therapy or surgery.

Biceps tendinitis

The long head of the biceps tendon is a long tendon that connects to the top part of the shoulder socket. It is a neighbor of the rotator cuff as it makes a right angle turn over the ball of the shoulder. It can be torn from repetitive activity or chronically inflamed. Cases that do not respond to conservative treatment may require surgical management.

Shoulder contractures

Sometimes, as a result of surgery, trauma or for no apparent reason, the shoulder may become stiff. Normally this can be treated with conservative treatment including physical therapy and injections. In rare cases, the shoulder may need to be moved in the operating room or have an arthroscopy performed to break up the scar tissue.

AC Joint Injuries (Separated Shoulder)

A shoulder separation occurs when the end of the collarbone (clavicle) dislocates from the highest point of the shoulder blade (the acromion). AC (acromioclavicular) joint injuries are usually the result of a collision or a fall onto the shoulder or arm.

Shoulder impingement

The rotator cuff has a small lubricating sac above it called the bursa. Sometimes, the bursa can get inflamed from repetitive activity. This condition is called shoulder impingement.

Calcific tendinitis

Occasionally, calcium deposits may form within the rotator cuff tendons as a result of a prior injury or for no apparent reason. They can present with a sudden onset of severe pain not related to any activity. They are typically identified on X-ray.


Cartilage wear and inflammation (arthritis) can occur either at the ball and socket joint of the shoulder or at the small joint at the end of the collar bone. It can be related to prior injuries and fractures or occur over time from repetitive activities.

*Shoulder injuries can occur from a direct hit to the shoulder, repetitive stress to the shoulder, diminishing blood supply – often a result of aging, falling onto an outstretched arm, bone spurs, lifting weights, sudden overhead reaching etc.

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