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Best Physical Therapy's Health Information Library

Here, we have gathered health articles on almost every major subject in healthcare. Please explore, enjoy, and share this free resource provided by Best Physical Therapy

Shoulder Injuries and Disorders

Your shoulder joint is composed of three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone). Your shoulders are the most movable joints in your body. They can also be unstable because the ball of the upper arm is larger than the shoulder socket that holds it. To remain in a stable or normal position, the shoulder must be anchored by muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Because your shoulder can be unstable, it can be easily injured. Common problems include

  • Sprains and strains
  • Dislocations
  • Separations
  • Tendinitis
  • Bursitis
  • Torn rotator cuffs
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Arthritis

Health care providers diagnose shoulder problems by using your medical history, a physical exam, and imaging tests.

Often, the first treatment for shoulder problems is RICE. This stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Other treatments include exercise and medicines to reduce pain and swelling. If those don't work, you may need surgery.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Rotator Cuff Injuries

Your rotator cuff is located in your shoulder area. It is made of muscles and tendons. It helps your shoulder to move and stay stable. Problems with the rotator cuff are common. They include tendinitis, bursitis, and injuries such as tears.

Rotator cuff tendons can become inflamed from frequent use or aging. Sometimes they are injured from a fall on an outstretched hand. Sports or jobs with repeated overhead motion can also damage the rotator cuff. Aging causes tendons to wear down, which can lead to a tear.

Some tears are not painful, but others can be very painful. Treatment for a torn rotator cuff depends on age, health, how severe the injury is, and how long you've had the torn rotator cuff.

Treatment for torn rotator cuff includes:

  • Rest
  • Heat or cold to the sore area
  • Medicines that reduce pain and swelling
  • Electrical stimulation of muscles and nerves
  • Ultrasound
  • Cortisone injection
  • Surgery

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease

Dislocated Shoulder

What is a dislocated shoulder?

Your shoulder joint is made up of three bones: your collarbone, your shoulder blade, and your upper arm bone. The top of your upper arm bone is shaped like a ball. This ball fits into a cuplike socket in your shoulder blade. A shoulder dislocation is an injury that happens when the ball pops out of your socket. A dislocation may be partial, where the ball is only partially out of the socket. It can also be a full dislocation, where the ball is completely out of the socket.

What causes a dislocated shoulder?

Your shoulders are the most movable joints in your body. They are also the most commonly dislocated joints.

The most common causes of shoulder dislocations are

  • Sports injuries
  • Accidents, including traffic accidents
  • Falling on your shoulder or outstretched arm
  • Seizures and electric shocks, which can cause muscle contractions that pull the arm out of place
Who is at risk for a dislocated shoulder?

A dislocated shoulder can happen to anyone, but they are more common in young men, who are more often involved in sports and other physical activities. Older adults, especially women, are also at higher risk because they are more likely to fall.

What are the symptoms of a dislocated shoulder?

The symptoms of a dislocated shoulder include

  • Severe shoulder pain
  • Swelling and bruising of your shoulder or upper arm
  • Numbness and/or weakness in your arm, neck, hand, or fingers
  • Trouble moving your arm
  • Your arm seems to be out of place
  • Muscle spasms in your shoulder

If you are having these symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

How is a dislocated shoulder diagnosed?

To make a diagnosis, your health care provider will take a medical history and examine your shoulder. Your provider may also ask you to get an x-ray to confirm the diagnosis.

What are the treatments for a dislocated shoulder?

The treatment for dislocated shoulder usually involves three steps:

  • The first step is a closed reduction, a procedure in which your health care provider puts the ball of your upper arm back into the socket. You may first get medicine to relieve the pain and relax your shoulder muscles. Once the joint is back in place, the severe pain should end.
  • The second step is wearing a sling or other device to keep your shoulder in place. You will wear it for a few days to several weeks.
  • The third step is rehabilitation, once the pain and swelling have improved. You will do exercises to improve your range of motion and strengthen your muscles.

You may need surgery if you injure the tissues or nerves around the shoulder or if you get repeated dislocations.

A dislocation can make your shoulder unstable. When that happens, it takes less force to dislocate it. This means that there is a higher risk of it happening again. Your health care provider may ask you to continue doing some exercises to prevent another dislocation.

Arm Injuries and Disorders

Of the 206 bones in your body, three of them are in your arm: the humerus, radius, and ulna. Your arms are also made up of muscles, joints, tendons, and other connective tissue. Injuries to any of these parts of the arm can occur during sports, a fall, or an accident.

Types of arm injuries include

  • Tendinitis and bursitis
  • Sprains
  • Dislocations
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Nerve problems
  • Osteoarthritis

You may also have problems or injure specific parts of your arm, such as your hand, wrist, elbow, or shoulder.

Guide to Good Posture

Good posture is about more than standing up straight so you can look your best. It is an important part of your long-term health. Making sure that you hold your body the right way, whether you are moving or still, can prevent pain, injuries, and other health problems.

What is posture?

Posture is how you hold your body. There are two types:

  • Dynamic posture is how you hold yourself when you are moving, like when you are walking, running, or bending over to pick up something.
  • Static posture is how you hold yourself when you are not moving, like when you are sitting, standing, or sleeping.

It is important to make sure that you have good dynamic and static posture.

The key to good posture is the position of your spine. Your spine has three natural curves - at your neck, mid back, and low back. Correct posture should maintain these curves, but not increase them. Your head should be above your shoulders, and the top of your shoulder should be over the hips.

How can posture affect my health?

Poor posture can be bad for your health. Slouching or slumping over can

  • Misalign your musculoskeletal system
  • Wear away at your spine, making it more fragile and prone to injury
  • Cause neck, shoulder, and back pain
  • Decrease your flexibility
  • Affect how well your joints move
  • Affect your balance and increase your risk of falling
  • Make it harder to digest your food
  • Make it harder to breathe
How can I improve my posture in general?

  • Be mindful of your posture during everyday activities, like watching television, washing dishes, or walking
  • Stay active. Any kind of exercise may help improve your posture, but certain types of exercises can be especially helpful. They include yoga, tai chi, and other classes that focuses on body awareness. It is also a good idea to do exercises that strengthen your core (muscles around your back, abdomen, and pelvis).
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight can weaken your abdominal muscles, cause problems for your pelvis and spine, and contribute to low back pain. All of these can hurt your posture.
  • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. High heels, for example, can throw off your balance and force you to walk differently. This puts more stress on your muscles and harms your posture.
  • Make sure work surfaces are at a comfortable height for you, whether you're sitting in front of a computer, making dinner, or eating a meal.
How can I improve my posture when sitting?

Many Americans spend a lot of their time sitting - either at work, at school, or at home. It is important to sit properly, and to take frequent breaks:

  • Switch sitting positions often
  • Take brief walks around your office or home
  • Gently stretch your muscles every so often to help relieve muscle tension
  • Don't cross your legs; keep your feet on the floor, with your ankles in front of your knees
  • Make sure that your feet touch the floor, or if that's not possible, use a footrest
  • Relax your shoulders; they should not be rounded or pulled backwards
  • Keep your elbows in close to your body. They should be bent between 90 and 120 degrees.
  • Make sure that your back is fully supported. Use a back pillow or other back support if your chair does not have a backrest that can support your lower back's curve.
  • Make sure that your thighs and hips are supported. You should have a well-padded seat, and your thighs and hips should be parallel to the floor.
How can I improve my posture when standing?

  • Stand up straight and tall
  • Keep your shoulders back
  • Pull your stomach in
  • Put your weight mostly on the balls of your feet
  • Keep your head level
  • Let your arms hang down naturally at your sides
  • Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart

With practice, you can improve your posture; you will look and feel better.