Joint Injury Series – The Shoulder

The last major joint I want to go over in this little series is the shoulder.  If you remember, Reed had major problems with shoulder issues.  Most notably, a shoulder separation.  Separating your shoulder is not something that should be taken lightly.  You won’t feel that way when you the pain almost blinds you….okay, that was a little intense, but it is pretty serious.  Just like the other 2 joints I covered, your shoulders take a lot of abuse, especially when you fall.  The deltoid, clavicle, humorous and ligaments/tendons all take a beating when your front end washes out, sending you to the ground on your shoulder.

The main part of the shoulder girdle is where the head of the humorous inserts into the scapula (shoulder blade).  The point at which these two bones meet is called the glenoid fossa (fossa refers a small indentation in a bone).  Thus, the joint is called glenohumoral.  From here, you start to get into the tendons and ligaments.  What’s the difference between a tendon and ligament?  Tendons connect bone to muscle and ligaments connect bone to bone.  There are a number of rings that are composed of tough fibrous tissue and synovial membranes in this area similar to the knee.

Now that we have an idea of the main joint, we can look at the “roof” of the shoulder, which involves the clavicle.  The clavicle (collar) bone is considered to be part of the shoulder girdle and is one of the most common injuries.  Because runs across the body, it is open and easily accessible to forces.  The clavicle connects to the scapula at a point known as the coracoid process.  Ligaments attached to the coracoid process, the clavicle and acromion (another part of the scapula that helps form the “roof”) form a web of connective tissue that holds everything in place for the “roof”.  When you separate your shoulder, this web is ruptured.

Looking more closely at a separated shoulder, the ligaments that form this “roof” are stretched when the clavicle come apart from the web.  Like the other joints, the mild to severe categories are called Grades for the shoulder.  Grade 1 separation includes the tearing of the acromioclavicular ligament, Grade 2 is rupture of the acromioclavicular ligament plus strains of the coracoacromial and coracoclavicular ligaments; Grade 3 is a rupture of the acromioclavicular and coracoclavicular ligaments plus strain of the coracoacromial ligament.

In addition to the separated shoulder, you can also have rotor cuff injuries.  The rotor cuff is comprised of the teres minor, infraspinatus, supraspinatus, and subscapularis muscles.  These all are attached to the scapula and extend to the humorous.  These muscles help give you all of the controlled motion of the shoulder, plus they help stabilize it as well.  Most of the time, when you tear the rotor cuff, it is the supraspinatus.  Usually, you can tell if something is injured in the area when you lift your arm out directly to the side.  Depending on the severity, rest is the best answer.  However, surgery may be necessary if there is a rupture.

As I have stated before, strength training helps the tendon and ligaments get stronger.  Not only that, but the muscles in the shoulder girdle become stronger and help provide you with a greater source of protection.  If injured, apply the RICE method until certified medical help arrives.

Posted on Aug 18 2011, under Training | No Comments »

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