The shoulder is made up of the humerus bone,
which is the arm bone, and it articulates with, or touches, the shoulder blade, which
is called the scapula. The part of the shoulder blade it touches is called the glenoid. So,
in a sense, it’s like a ball in a socket. The top of the arm bone is like a ball, and
then part of the shoulder blade is like a socket, so they rotate on each other. What
keeps the ball centered on the socket is called the rotator cuff, and that gives your shoulder
strength and it stabilizes it. So if you don’t have those muscles, you can have pain and
you can have weakness, and problems from there. A rotator cuff can be injured a lot of ways.
Sometimes people don’t know how they do it, they just come in with shoulder pain and they
have a rotator cuff tear. That’s pretty common. It’s usually people a little bit older, 50s
or older. Other people can injure their rotator cuff with a dislocation. People, sort of in
their 40s, 50s and older, if they dislocate their shoulder, oftentimes that rotator cuff
will tear. Other times, and very often, it’s from a fall. People walking their dog and
falling on the ice and landing on their shoulder, or just slipping and falling anywhere, and
doing that. I have a few patients who have fallen on ladders or on roofs and tried to
catch themselves, and have torn that way. So those are those abrupt, dramatic injuries,
and those are really satisfying to get to early because people do recover. They get
a lot better. They’re pretty disabled by that injury. The more common are those people who
don’t know quite how they did it. They think there was an injury, but they’re not sure.
The cuff’s a little bit degenerative to start with, it’s not as healthy, so it’s easier
to injure, and then maybe they took a minor fall. A lot of the degenerative wear and tear, soft
tissue, things like rotator cuffs, are more in your late 40s to 50s to 60s, or older.
True shoulder arthritis issues are usually older, usually over 60, over 70 years old,
but we see it in young people and that’s a difficult problem to figure out. But we see
it in people in their 40s and 50s. So if you come to the doctor with shoulder
concerns, they will probably get X-rays. They will do a physical exam. They’ll have you
move your arms in certain directions. They’ll have you… They’ll test your strength with
different maneuvers, which we can isolate different muscles around your shoulder and
around your rotator cuff. They will see if your shoulder is unstable, if you have a history
of dislocations. That can be tested in the clinic. The doctor will move your arm around.
It’s a pretty quick exam, actually, but it should be thorough. That and basic X-rays
can give you a ton of information. So it’s often good to come in earlier rather than
put up with the pain.