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Common Shoulder Injuries

You may be surprised, but the shoulder is an extremely complex joint. It includes 4 joints which connect arms, shoulders, and chest.

This complex system enables us to enjoy a full range of motion. Lifting, throwing, reaching— these actions all rely upon the shoulder joint.

Only when the shoulder is injured do we realized how important it is to our daily activities.

Shoulder injuries are fairly common, especially among the active population that participates in outdoor activities or impact sports.

Some of the sports that we see here in the mountains are particularly prone to major shoulder injuries, including:

  • Skiing

  • Snowboarding

  • Mountain biking

One of the most frequent shoulder injuries in this active population is the shoulder dislocation.

Shoulder Dislocations

Shoulder injuries can be a serious hindrance to an active lifestyle

We see shoulder dislocations in several types. These include:

Posterior shoulder dislocations

A less common injury, posterior shoulder dislocations make up only 2-4% of the shoulder dislocations that surgeons treat.

Anterior shoulder dislocations

These make up the vast majority of shoulder dislocation injuries. With the high amount of skiing and mountain biking in the mountains, we treat these almost every day in Vail and Summit County.

Inferior shoulder dislocations

This is the least common form of shoulder dislocation.

Should You "Pop Back In" a Shoulder Dislocation?


If you don't have proper training, you should try to put someone's shoulder back into place if it is dislocated. Likewise, don't let someone do it to you if you happen to have a shoulder dislocation.

What is the Rotator Cuff?

Baseball pitchers suffer a high rate of rotator cuff tears

The rotator cuff is attached to the muscles that are responsible for keeping the shoulder stable. It is joined to these muscles via four important tendons, and it keeps the shoulder in its socket.

What Causes Rotator Cuff Shoulder Injuries?

Rotator cuff damage can be caused by:

  • Direct trauma to the shoulder

  • Repetitive activity (for instance, baseball pitching, serving in tennis)

What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury?

When you've suffered a rotator cuff injury, you are likely to feel the following:

  • Painful movement

  • Weakness in the shoulder

  • Difficulty raising the arm overhead

Shoulder Impingement Injuries

Impingement of the shoulder often happens when there is the presence of bursitis (inflamed bursae) or tendonitis (inflamed tendons).

Since impingement can describe any number of symptoms, we must be careful with diagnoses when we are evaluating possible treatment. An accurate diagnosis will lead to more effective treatment.

If you have shoulder impingement, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Aches and pain in the shoulder

  • Difficulty raising the arm to the side or in front of the body.

When Should You See A Doctor for Shoulder Pain?

If you are having shoulder pain, see a specialist as soon as possible

If you have any of the above symptoms of a shoulder dislocation, rotator cuff tear, or shoulder impingement, we recommend seeing a specialist as soon as possible.

With a proper diagnosis, we can treat your shoulder injury and get you back to doing what you love as soon as possible.




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