Shoulder Anatomy

Healthy Shoulder, Rockville, Maryland

The shoulder is a ball (humeral head) and socket (glenoid) joint, and it is the most mobile joint in the body. However, the socket (glenoid) is shallow, covering less than half of the ball (humeral head) and provides little stability.

The shoulder joint is held in place by muscles and bands of connective tissue called tendons and ligaments. Four major muscles (subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor) and their tendons connect the upper arm bone (humerus) with the shoulder blade (scapula).

There are many different types of shoulder injuries and tears; however, there are a few that are more common than others. Common types of injuries are rotator cuff tears, biceps tendon rupture, Bankart Lesion, and Superior Labrum from Anterior to Posterior (SLAP) lesions.

Many of these injuries can occur from long-term overuse, such as repetitive lifting, pushing, pulling and throwing. For this reason, athletes and skilled workers are particularly prone to shoulder injuries.

Sports Shoulder Injuries

Most shoulder damage involves the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, rather than bones which make it difficult to decide if the shoulder pain is from muscle soreness or a tendon injury.

Common Types of Sports Shoulder Injuries

Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator Cuff Tear, Rockville, Maryland

The group of muscles and ligaments in the shoulder is called the rotator cuff. It is located near the under part of the shoulder blade and provides stability and range of motion to the joint whenever it moves. Rotator cuff injuries are very common sport related injuries, especially in sports that require repetitive overhead arm motions.

Symptoms usually include pain, weakness and tenderness in the shoulder when reaching overhead, behind the back, when pulling and when lifting items. Symptoms may show up immediately or gradually, depending on the extent of the injury.

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