Shoulder Anatomy & Function

The shoulder is one of the most flexible and moveable joints in the entire body. There are three bones that join together to create the shoulder joint, the upper part of the arm bone known as the humerus, the bone of the shoulder blade known as the scapula, and the collarbone known as the clavicle. These bones work together with two additional joints to give the shoulder its extensive range of motion; the glenohumeral joint that connects the top part of the arm into the shoulder blade and the acromioclavicular joint, which is responsible for connecting the top of the shoulder blade to the collarbone. The bones of the shoulder are then held stable by a network of ligaments, tendons and muscles. Other important parts of the shoulder include the rotator cuff, which holds the ball of the arm into the socket of the shoulder. There are also bursae located in the shoulder, which are small, cushioning, fluid-filled sac that aid in the movement, range of motion and gliding of the shoulder joint.

Shoulder pain is generally caused by overuse or injury to the shoulder, and shoulder pain is often extremely limiting, causing loss of mobility and loss of range of motion. Loss of shoulder function and shoulder pain may be caused by arthritis, which is the deterioration of the cartilage in the shoulder. Loss of this cartilage causes the bones of the shoulder to grind against each other, causing pain and further degeneration.

Depending on the cause and severity of the shoulder pain, your orthopedic surgeon at Arizona Bone and Joint Specialists will recommend a treatment plan to relieve your chronic shoulder pain and help restore range of motion and function.

Conservative treatments include medication, both over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and prescription pain medications. Physical therapy and an exercise program may help build strength and relieve pain. Localized joint injections of long-lasting corticosteroids can help with swelling, pain, and inflammation. If the shoulder injury is severe, compromises quality of life or limits range of motion, a full shoulder joint replacement surgery may be recommended by your orthopedic surgeon at Arizona Bone and Joint Specialists.