The shoulder is a specialized joint that provides exceptional mobility to the upper extremity. The highly mobile shoulder joint allows for the placement of the hand in variety of spatial positions to include positions above, below in the front and behind without difficulties. Along with exceptional mobility, the shoulder provides agility and strength to the arm.
Shoulder problems typically vary with age and with environmental exposure. Childhood shoulder problems primarily involve fractures about the clavicle and growth plates. Significant soft tissue injuries about the shoulder are uncommon in children.
Adolescent shoulder issues typically relate to overuse injuries related to sporting activity. Additionally, adolescent shoulders may be exposed to fractures and dislocations. Specific sporting injuries to adolescents can be seen in baseball and softball pitchers, as well as swimmer.
Adult females are more prone to develop a condition known as adhesive capsules or a “frozen shoulder.”
Mature adults may also be prone to fragility fractures, rotator cuff injuries, and arthritic conditions.
The majority of shoulder problems can be identified through a pertinent orthopedic history, orthopedic examination, and appropriate imaging studies, which may include x-rays, ultrasound exams, CT scans, or MRI evaluations. Specialized testing, such as MR arthrogram studies, may warranted.
Many shoulder conditions can be managed through nonoperative treatment, which may include activity modification, rest, the use of oral medications, the judicious use of an ultrasound-guided corticosteroid injection, or a physical therapy program. Occasionally, shoulder conditions may require surgical intervention.
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