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Common Shoulder Problems

The shoulder joint is a combination of several components including bones (collarbone, shoulder blade and upper arm bone), ligaments, tendons, muscles, rotator cuff. The ball and socket joint connects our upper arm to the body and enables a lot of movements. However, the

[mobility it provides makes it an unstable joint.

The daily wear and tear, degenerative conditions, diseases, or injury may lead to common shoulder problems. Dr Vijay Kumar Sohanlal, a senior specialist in joint replacement and orthopaedics at MGM healthcare and Mahi Clinic – Chennai, enlightened us on the common shoulder problems. Some of them are:

Impingement Syndrome

The rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons, is one of the components that maintain the stability of the shoulder joint by holding the ball of the humerus in the socket. Sometimes there may be excessive rubbing between the top of the shoulder blade and the rotator cuff. This may be due to a sporting activity or some other work. This rubbing causes inflammation of the bursa, the lubricating sac between moving surfaces. The patient may experience pain and restrictive movement. This condition can lead to other problems like rotator cuff tear, tendinitis or bursitis. The condition may be treated by rest, physical therapy and medication. If nothing works then arthroscopy may be recommended by the doctor.

Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator cuff tear can be caused by one of several reasons like overuse, sports injury or ageing. The tear of the tendon may be partial or complete. Raising and moving the arm becomes difficult. The patient also experiences pain and inflammation of the shoulder. Sometimes non-surgical treatment can be helpful, else arthroscopy may be required.


Tendinitis is a condition of tendons. Sometimes tendons get worn out. They may also be squeezed by bony structures around them. This causes inflammation and thickening of the tendon. The patient may experience pain and face difficulty holding the arm in some positions. In this case, also treatment may include rest, anti-inflammatory medicines or surgery in severe cases.


As mentioned earlier, a bursa is a lubricating sac between moving parts that may have friction. They provide cushioning support between the bones and the tissues. Normally, it’s very thin but certain conditions can lead to inflammation and selling. Sometimes due to overuse of the shoulder, the bursa at the joint can get affected. It can cause difficulty in carrying out daily activities. Treatment includes rest and applying ice to the area. Pain killers and anti-inflammatory medicines may be helpful.   

Adhesive Capsulitis

This condition is commonly called frozen shoulder. Our shoulder has a joint capsule that is filled with synovial fluid and helps the bones to move effortlessly. Due to some reason, the capsule thickens and tightens. The ligaments also tighten and there is a development of tissue bands called adhesions. The patient experiences pain and stiffness. In severe conditions, the movement and rotation of the arm are affected. Usually, anti-inflammatory medicine and pain killers work well in treating the condition. Physical therapy helps in improving the mobility of the arm. When these treatments don’t get the desired result, an arthroscopic procedure is done on the affected shoulder.    


Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis that affects the shoulders. This condition is due to damaged cartilage between bones. The cushion between the bones is reduced or completely depleted. The bones rub against each other causing pain forcing the patient to move the arm lesser. Rest, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs may be helpful in pain management and restoring the range of movement to an extent.

Next Step

If you notice any of the symptoms in your shoulder, it’s important to consult an orthopaedic specialist.  

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