The Most Common Shoulder Injuries and Their Treatment Options

Your shoulders are extremely mobile joints. These structures are made up of bones, muscles, and tendons, and they all work together to give your arms motion. Because of this complexity, shoulders are uniquely susceptible to damage and injury. This also means any number of factors can cause shoulder pain.

At Upper Extremity Specialists, of Synergy Orthopedic Specialists Medical Group, Kristopher Downing, MD, and Daniel Brereton, DO, are highly trained in diagnosing and treating shoulder injuries. In this blog, they discuss some of the common shoulder injuries and their treatment options.

Types of shoulder injuries

Shoulders can get injured suddenly, such as from a tackle in football or a hit in a car accident. But shoulder injuries can also happen over time. Overuse and repetitive motions can lead to wear and tear, arthritis, and inflammation. A few of the most common shoulder injuries include the following:

Rotator cuff tears

Your rotator cuff consists of the muscles and tendons that hold the bones of your shoulder together. A rotator cuff tear is a common type of shoulder injury that involves a partial or complete tear in this group of muscles and tendons. Rotator cuff tears are painful, often causing weakness and a loss of mobility. 

Bursitis and tendonitis

Both bursitis and tendonitis can cause pain and inflammation in the shoulder joint. If you have bursitis, the bursae, or sacs of fluid that cushion the joint, get inflamed. If you have tendonitis, a tendon — which attaches a muscle to a bone — gets irritated or inflamed.


Your shoulder has three bones: the shoulder blade, the collarbone, and the upper arm bone. If one or more of these bones cracks or breaks in an injury, you have a fracture. Pain, swelling, and bruising are all common symptoms of a shoulder fracture.


Impingement syndrome is a shoulder injury that develops when a tendon in your shoulder rubs on your shoulder blade bone. It’s nicknamed swimmer’s shoulder, but it can happen to anyone who engages in repetitive arm movements above their heads. Shoulder impingement often causes swelling, irritation, and pain in the shoulder.


Shoulder instability is a chronic condition that occurs when the head of your upper arm bone isn’t secure in your shoulder joint socket. Shoulder dislocation happens when your arm bone is forced from the shoulder socket, which typically results from overuse or a sudden injury.

Once your shoulder has been dislocated, it’s more likely to be dislocated again. Instability is diagnosed when your shoulder feels loose and repeatedly slips out of place. Common symptoms of instability include pain and loss of strength.

Treatment for common shoulder injuries

Shoulder injuries can limit your life, but Dr. Downing and Dr. Brereton offer comprehensive treatment that can encourage healing and help you get you back to your favorite activities. Whether you’ve suffered an acute injury or you’re dealing with a chronic issue, we can help.

Mild to moderate injuries may respond to conservative treatment options, including:

More severe injuries, such as rotator cuff tears or shoulder instability, may require surgery. Our team specializes in the latest shoulder surgical techniques, including arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, shoulder arthroplasty, and shoulder replacement.

If you have shoulder pain, find out what’s causing it and learn what your treatment options are by booking an appointment online or over the phone with Upper Extremity Specialists today.

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