Facts You Need to Know: Shoulder Overuse Injury

If your job or hobby involves repetitive motion, you are subject to shoulder overuse injury. If you have injured a shoulder due to overuse, you likely know it causes excruciating pain.

Our high-tech society, where we repetitively click a mouse or play games on the computer contributes to shoulder overuse. Even the medical profession isn’t immune to shoulder injuries caused by years of pulling, tugging and lifting patients.

The Shoulder

Your shoulder is an intricate part of your body, comprised of three bones: clavicle or collar bone, scapula or shoulder blade and humerus or upper arm bone. The scapula is made up of the glenoid and acromonin.

These bones are surrounded by tendons, muscles and ligaments that form portions of two important joints: the acromioclavicular joint is located between the clavicle and scapula; between the glenoid and humerus is the glenohumeral joint.

Shoulder injury is a common consequence of overuse or repetitive motion involving the shoulder(s). Three conditions are possible: tendonitis, tearing and impingement syndrome.

The Rotator Cuff

Your cuff consists of four muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. Working as a team, the rotator cuff muscles help stabilize your shoulder joint. Four smaller tendons bond to fashion the rotator cuff tendon. In turn, the tendon connects to the humerus or upper arm bone.

Underneath the acrominon of the scapula is the subacromial space, which serves as a passage for the rotator cuff tendon.

What is Shoulder Impingement?

Impingement, in layman’s terms, means pinched. Pinching of shoulder joints can be caused by repetitive movements using incorrect methodology or trying to do too much at a time. Injuries from overuse take place over a period of time.

If your tendons get inflamed via pinching you will experience tendonitis. The rotator cuff can develop impingement if the rotator cuff tendon gets trapped in the subacrominal passage.

Another injury of overuse results in bursitis. This happens when a bursa, or sac filled with fluid to protect tendons and bones, is pinched.

What are Common Symptoms of Shoulder Overuse?

Incapable of raising shoulder outward to the side

Shoulder pain keeps you awake

Deep muscle pain on outside upper arm

Muscle pains in shoulder and upper arm

Shooting pains back and front of shoulder

As your shoulder overuse injury developed over a period of time, symptoms occur progressively and worsen without treatment:

Sore shoulder when you get up in the mornings.

Front and top of shoulder manifests pain

Pain heightens when lifting or reaching higher than shoulder level

Most pain experienced when arm is extended

Swelling/Numbness and/or tingling

Restricted range of motion

Shoulder muscles weaker

How are Shoulder Injuries Treated?

Non-invasive treatment is preferred for shoulder injuries. You should rest and avoid repetitive activities. Oral anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually taken for 6-8 weeks under doctor supervision. Cold therapy can also be beneficial.

Your doctor may also prescribe ultrasound therapy to improve blood flow to the affected tissues. You might have physical therapy and do stretching and strengthening exercises at home. Your doctor may give you a cortisone injection.

If the injury doesn’t resolve, surgery may be indicated to repair the shoulder overuse injury.