Painful shoulder conditions that limit movement are very common, and are often caused by injuries affecting the shoulder joint, muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.
It is possible to do more movements with the arm than with any other part of the body. The arm is such a useful tool that it’s a pity there are only two of them. The bones that make up the arm include the humerus in the upper arm, and the two bones of the forearm – the radius and ulna, as well as the little bones of the wrist, hand and fingers. The arm is very special as it enables the hand to get into all sorts of useful positions.
The shoulder joint in particular, being a universal joint, has a huge range of movement. The hand can go above the head, behind the back and even across to scratch behind the other shoulder. The elbow works like a hinge joint allowing the hand to come nearer or go further away from the body. The elbow and wrist combined allow manipulation of the hand through more than 180 degrees i.e. from palm up to palm down. The wrist helps with grip, while the joints in the hand, thumb and fingers allow the dexterity of finger movement.
Since the nerves that supply the shoulder and arm originate from the neck and upper spine, conditions such as vertebral dysfunction commonly contribute to pain in the shoulder. Other conditions that trigger shoulder pain are:
- Frozen shoulder
- Stiff shoulder
- Shoulder muscle spasm and tension
- Arthritis of the shoulder
- Diagnosis of shoulder pain
- Rotator cuff disorders such as tears and strains
- Impingement syndrome
- AC joint injury.
Signs of shoulder pain may include restriction in the movements of the shoulder, both active (the person doing them themselves) and passive (the joint being moved by someone else). Upward motion is usually less than 100 degrees (i.e. not far above shoulder level) and the arm cannot be turned outward more than 30 degrees.