Common Injuries

Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
Degeneration and inflammation of one or more of the rotator cuff tendons, often as a result of repetitive or prolonged arm elevation, lifting, pushing or pulling activities, general housework or lying on the affected side. Typically causes a pain or ache in the shoulder or upper arm that is often worse first thing in the morning and sometimes on firmly touching the affected rotator cuff muscle or tendon. Pain may also increase during lifting activities.

Subacromial Bursitis
Inflammation of the fluid filled sac (known as a bursa) located under the bone process at the point of the shoulder, often as a result of repetitive or prolonged arm elevation, over exertion or lying on the affected side. Typically causes a pain or ache in the shoulder or upper arm that is often worse first thing in the morning and sometimes on firmly touching the subacromial bursa. Often occurs in association with rotator cuff tendonitis.

Referred Pain
Pain referred into the shoulder from another source, such as the neck or upper back, frequently associated with symptoms above or below the shoulder (such as the neck, upper back, arm, elbow, forearm, wrist or fingers). Typically associated with pain felt when firmly touching the region responsible for the referred pain and/or loss of movement in that region. Sometimes associated with pins and needles, or numbness in the affected arm or hand.

Less Common Injuries

Shoulder Impingement
Pinching or compression of soft tissue, such as the rotator cuff tendons and the subacromial bursa, between the upper arm bone and roof of the shoulder during certain movements of the shoulder, such as arm elevation. Typically causes pain or an ache in the shoulder that may radiate into the upper arm, and often a painful arc of arm elevation.

Shoulder Instability
Loosening of the connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint that enables the bones forming the joint to move excessively on each other. Typically occurs following a full or partial shoulder dislocation. May cause shoulder pain during certain shoulder movements or activities and sometimes a clicking, clunking or popping sensation, or feeling that the shoulder is going to ‘pop out’ during certain movements.

Labral Tear of the Shoulder
Damage to the cartilage lining the shoulder joint often in association with a dislocated shoulder, or due to repetitive or prolonged lifting, weight bearing activities, lying on the affected side, throwing, overhead activities or pushing or pulling movements. Pain is usually deep, although may present as vague shoulder pain. A clicking or catching sensation is often present during certain movements. Symptoms may increase with certain, often very specific movements or activities using the shoulder, such as arm elevation and lifting (especially overhead), weight bearing through the affected arm (e.g. push ups) or sometimes lying on the affected side.

Frozen Shoulder
Inflammation, scarring and tightening of the connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint, usually resulting in pain or ache in the shoulder and upper arm and a marked loss of shoulder movement, usually in all directions that may persist for many months. Often occurring following other shoulder injuries that are not managed appropriately, usually due to inadequate rest from aggravating activities or excessive immobilisation.

Bicep Tendonitis
Degeneration and inflammation of one or more biceps tendons located at the front of the shoulder, often as a result of repetitive or prolonged forward elevation of the arm, lifting, pushing or pulling activities, general housework or lying on the affected side. Typically causes a pain or ache in the front of the shoulder or upper arm that is often worse first thing in the morning, and when firmly touching the affected bicep’s tendon. Pain may also increase when exerting the arm.

Nerve Entrapment
Compression of nerves due to trauma or pressure from local tissue, sometimes associated with anatomical abnormalities or excessive exertion of the shoulder from activities such as throwing. May cause a variety of symptoms depending on the nerve affected. Symptoms may include: pain in the shoulder that is poorly localised and may radiate into the neck, upper arm or chest wall; weakness of the shoulder; visible wasting of the rotator cuff muscles; abnormal shoulder blade positioning (often with the inner border of the shoulder blade sticking up excessively); and sometimes pins and needles or numbness.

Thoracic Outlet Sydrome
Compression of nerves and blood vessels as they course from the neck to the shoulder due to pressure from local tissues, which may arise following injury, due to poor posture, or anatomical abnormalities. Typically associated with pain in the neck or shoulder, or pins and needles or numbness involving either the entire upper limb or the forearm and hand.