5 Common Signs of a Shoulder Injury

5 Common Signs of a Shoulder Injury

Every year, millions of Americans seek medical care for shoulder injuries, including injuries related to sports and non-sports trauma. You depend on your shoulder for a lot of activities, including simple ones you probably don’t even think about — until your shoulder is injured. Seeking care at the first sign of injury is essential for feeling better and preventing further joint damage.

As leading providers of state-of-the-art orthopedic care in The Woodlands, Texas, the team at The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre uses advanced diagnostic techniques to determine the cause of shoulder problems so that they can tailor each treatment plan individually. Here are five shoulder injury symptoms you should be aware of.

#1 Shoulder, arm, back, or neck pain

Your shoulder is a large ball-and-socket joint that forms where three bones meet (your arm bone, shoulder blade, and collarbone). In addition to these bones, the joint includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other structures, all working together to support normal, pain-free movement.

The structures of your shoulder are interconnected, which means if your shoulder is injured, you can wind up feeling pain in the joint itself or in other areas, like your arm, upper back, or neck. Sometimes, pain is accompanied by other symptoms, like “clicking” noises or “popping” sensations.

You might have pain only when you move your arm or shoulder, or you might have pain all the time. Taking note of where and when your pain occurs and whether or not it’s related to movement can help your doctor determine the cause and prescribe the most appropriate treatment.

#2 Shoulder stiffness

Most shoulder injuries affect the way you move your shoulder in some way. If an injury affects the rotator cuff — the series of tendons and muscles that hold your shoulder joint “in place” — you may find your shoulder is stiff when you lift your arm or reach over your head.

Shoulder stiffness can be caused by other injuries too, as well as diseases like arthritis. As with pain, stiffness may be accompanied by other symptoms, like tenderness, swelling, or warmth around the joint.

#3 Weakness in your arm

Rotator cuff injuries and other injuries involving the tendons, muscles, or nerves affect your arm movement in other ways. Some shoulder injuries result in arm weakness, especially when you try to raise your arm or lift an object over your head.

In addition to shoulder injuries, arm weakness can be related to other medical issues, including neuromuscular problems. During your evaluation, your doctor performs tests to pinpoint the cause of this symptom and recommend the best course of care.

#4 Reduced range of motion

Your shoulder is one of the most flexible joints in your body, moving in many different directions to help you perform a wide variety of tasks. Depending on the type of shoulder injury you have, you may find you can no longer rotate your shoulder or use your shoulder to raise your arm over your head. 

Some range-of-motion issues can interfere with work activities or simple habits, like combing your hair. Most treatment plans include physical therapy to help restore a normal range of motion once the initial injury is healed.

#5 Swelling, tenderness, or bruising

Some shoulder injuries cause symptoms you can see and feel, like swelling or bruising over or near the joint. If all you have are visible symptoms, there’s a good chance the injury itself is external, affecting the outer muscles and soft tissues that cover the joint. But if those visible symptoms are accompanied by pain, the injury is more likely to involve the joint structure.

Don’t ignore shoulder symptoms

Shoulder injury symptoms can vary a lot depending on the type of injury you have and how serious it is. The one thing all shoulder injuries have in common: They all respond best to early treatment.

If you think you’ve injured your shoulder, don’t ignore your symptoms or wait for them to go away on their own. Call 281-410-2882 or book an appointment online and learn how the team at The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre can help.

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