The shoulder is not a ball in socket joint. It is a ball on saucer joint. That design gives it its generous range of motion but it also makes it reliant on the muscles and ligaments for its stability and proper function.
Most shoulder problems are biomechanical in nature and they occur when the muscles and ligaments aren’t working well together. They get “out of tune”. These problems usually respond very well to an exercise program and anti-inflammatory medicines.
The Rotator Cuff is the primary structure providing stability and function to the shoulder. It can become irritated and inflamed from chronic use and strain. Chronic inflammation can cause a build up of scar and an inflamed bursa that can cause pain during shoulder motion. Rotator Cuff Tendonitis, Bursitis and Impingement Syndrome can be treated with medications, local injections, and physical therapy. Resistant and persistent cases can be cured through arthroscopic surgery to remove the built up scar and bursa.
From wear and tear or acute trauma, the rotator cuff can develop a tear that causes intractable pain and weakness. Rotator Cuff Tears frequently require surgical repair to patch the hole in the tendon. Most rotator cuff tears are repaired through outpatient arthroscopic surgery. A successful recovery requires not only technically accurate surgery but also a diligent post-operative rehabilitation program to protect the tendon while it heals, and then later to restore the shoulder’s range of motion and strength.
The shoulder joint can degenerate over time and become arthritic. Arthritis causes pain and loss of motion. Early treatment includes medications, joint injections and therapy. When the condition becomes resistant to conservative treatment, shoulder replacement surgery can be a successful option.