You don’t have to be an athlete to have a shoulder injury.

Shoulder injuries are common.  Whether tossing a ball, paddling a kayak, clicking your seatbelt, or shoveling snow, people rely heavily on our shoulders to perform numerous activities. When you have a common shoulder injury, every day details can be hard to tend to.

Typically, shoulders have a wide range of motion. They are the most mobile joint in the body. But Because of this flexibility, they are not very stable and are easily injured. And all their moving parts need to work well together. For shoulders to remain pain-free, you should understand shoulder injuries and ways to avoid them.


Some people get osteoarthritis starting as early as age 50. This can create pain in movement. This occurs as the cartilage along the shoulder joint is worn away, and the joints basically wear out and become enlarged. The most common cause of osteoarthritis is overuse. We customize our treatments for arthritis in the shoulder depending on the severity of pain. However, the typical treatments are rest, NSAIDs, and cortisone shots. Sometimes we’re able to use Platelet-rich plasma therapy, sometimes called PRP therapy or autologous conditioned plasma (ACP) therapy, and in other cases, we need to replace the shoulder joint.

Rotator Cuff Tear

The group of four muscles in the upper arm are called the rotator cuff. These are what allow you to raise and rotate your arm. The muscles are attached to the bones by tendons, and the tendons are what help you move your arm. If the tendons tear, it becomes difficult and painful to move your arm up or away from the body.

Tendons age as we do, they degenerate and lose their strength, which can lead to a rotator cuff tear. You can imagine this typically happens to older adults who already have shoulder problems, though this can happen to children, too. Often, the rotator cuff injuries are caused by lifting heavy objects with extended arms, or by trying to catch a heavy object.

Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Shoulder soreness or tenderness
  • Inability to raise your arm
  • Inability to sleep on your side
  • Pain when pressure is put on the shoulder

Again, we customize our shoulder injury treatment plans based on the severity of the injury. RICE (Rest, Ice Compression, Elevation) is often used if the tear is not complete. Rest being the most vital part of recovery. Injections may be suggested if the pain doesn’t reduce, and physical therapy may be needed to help restore strength and flexibility. If your tear is extreme, surgery may be necessary.

Shoulder Instability

This is a concern we mostly see in young people and athletes, and it’s not always a sports related injury. When muscles and ligaments holding the shoulder together are stretched beyond their normal limits, the shoulder becomes unstable. This condition is sometimes just a normal part of growth and development, then they stiffen up and get more stable with age.

Athletes’ shoulder instability is caused by certain motions used in tackling or pitching. These put great force on the shoulder, which stretch the shoulder ligaments over time. The pain that occurs is either immediate or over time. Some patients say their shoulder feels loose, or their arm feels week. Treatment, like of the other shoulder injuries, includes rest, physical therapy or surgery.

Frozen Shoulder

Affecting roughly 2% of Americans, most often in middle age, the reasons for a frozen shoulder are not fully known. Frozen shoulder has been known to affect people with diabetes, thyroid disease, heart disease, or Parkinson disease. It has also occurred when a shoulder has been immobile for a length of time. It is referred to as frozen shoulder because the biggest symptom is not being able to move the shoulder without extreme stiffness and pain. Treatment may include NSAIDs, cortisone shots, or physical therapy. We strongly recommend a good stretch prior to physical activity to try to avoid this condition.

If you find yourself with one of these common shoulder injuries, we suggest you start with the RICE therapy. If you don’t find relief or have extreme pain, we recommend you see an orthopaedic specialist to determine your best recovery options.

OrthoIdaho is conveniently located at 2240 E Center St, Pocatello, ID 83201. Call for an appointment today: 208-233-2100.

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