Shoulder conditions treated by Newton Wellesley Orthopedic Associates in Newton and Wellesley, MA include rotator cuff tear and shoulder arthritis, which can cause significant shoulder pain.

Conditions Affecting the Shoulder

Rotator Cuff Tear

One of the most common causes of shoulder pain is a rotator cuff tear. The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles at the shoulder whose tendons form a sheet that covers the shoulder joint. In young and middle-aged individuals, rotator cuff tears most commonly occur from sports injuries or other trauma. In older individuals, rotator cuff tears may occur from degenerative changes over time. It is estimated that over 90% of individuals over age 40 with a shoulder dislocation have a rotator cuff tear.

Pain from a rotator cuff tear is usually a dull diffuse aching, which radiates down the front of the arm. There may be significant weakness with bringing the arm overhead, such as to reach for an object on a high shelf. Reaching behind the back may also be very difficult.

With partial tears and small tears, as well as tears that occur in individuals with few physical demands, treatment is best accomplished with anti-inflammatory medications, ice packs, and physical therapy to maximize strength and range of motion. Cortisone injections can be given occasionally to help relieve pain as well.

Individuals with rotator cuff tears that continue to be painful and disabling despite a reasonable course of nonoperative treatment are best treated by repair of the rotator cuff. In some cases, this is done with an open incision at the shoulder, but now is very often done with arthroscopy. Daniel Quinn, MD explains how this is done in the technical video below.

Shoulder Arthritis

Osteoarthritis of the shoulder occurs when cartilage breakdown causes joint bones to rub together. This is a chronic condition, which causes pain and stiffness as well as limited range of motion.

Shoulder Dislocation

Dislocation of the shoulder means that the upper arm bone comes out of the joint socket. A common sports injury, shoulder dislocation is painful and requires medical attention. Once a shoulder is dislocated, it is more prone to dislocate again.

Tendinitis of the Shoulder

When the shoulder tendons and muscles become inflamed, painful and cause limited motion, it is called rotator cuff tendonitis or tendonitis of the shoulder. The condition develops over time and the cause is typically repetitive motion.

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