Medical Services

Common Shoulder Problems and Diagnosis

While many people consider the shoulder to be one structure, it is actually several structures that meet to form a wide range of activities. It is composed of several joints that are made up of a number of tendons, which is why it has such a flexible range of motion. While the mobility of the shoulder joint has its benefits, there are also a number of drawbacks to this mobility. There are is a lot of injury risk associated with the shoulder, including instability, or tissue impingement. The shoulder is at constant risk of developing an injury or being put in a situation that results in pain. When there is a problem with the shoulder, the pain is usually temporary. However, there are some conditions that cause pain which requires medical diagnosis and potentially medical treatment.

Anatomy of the Shoulder

The human shoulder is comprised of three bones: Humerus (arm bone), Scapula (shoulder blade), and Clavicle (collarbone).Your arm bone fits into a round ‘socket’ in the shoulder blade known as the glenoid. A large collection of muscles and tendons keep the arm bone in place and they do their best to keep it from slipping out of its safe location. The muscle tissues and tendons that hold the arm bone in place are called the rotator cuff. While the shoulder may seem like an extremely strong joint, it is very easy to injure.

Common Shoulder Problems

When doctors are considering shoulder problems, they classify them into four primary categories. These categories include:

  • Tendon Inflammation or Tendon Tear
  • Joint Instability
  • Arthritis
  • Bone Fracture

Other Causes of Shoulder Pain

There are other causes of shoulder pain that are less common but are worth noting. Conditions such as infections, tumors, and nerve injuries can cause severe pain in the shoulder and should always be treated. You can learn more about conditions that cause shoulder pain at You can also learn about the treatments available to people who are facing shoulder related problems.

How Shoulder Pain Is Diagnosed

There are many ways to determine the reason behind shoulder pain. Everyone experiences discomfort in their shoulder at some point. Many times, this is caused by sleeping in a position your body is not used to and the pain disappears after a few days. However, cases that involve intense pain should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible. When you see a doctor, they will evaluate the following:

  • Medical History – a thorough medical history will allow them to determine any risk factors for common problems in the shoulder.
  • Physical Examination – Your doctor will examine your shoulder to see if there is any abnormal swelling, weakness in the muscle, and see if there is any tenderness that hints to what the problem may be.

There are a number of tests that may be necessary to rule out severe problems associated with the shoulder. Xrays, an MRI, A CT scan, and in severe cases arthroscopy may be necessary to determine the cause of shoulder pain.