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Shoulder joints absorb a great deal of wear and tear during your lifetime and therefore have the potential to be affected by osteoarthritis. The glenohumeral joint is the correct term for the main joint in your shoulder. The outer rim of the shoulder blade contains a shallow socket called the glenoid. Here it joins your upper arm bone (the humerus) and forms the glenohumeral joint The other joint in the shoulder is the acromioclavicular joint (or A/C Joint). The acromium is a bony hook which curves around the top of your shoulder from the sholder blade to join your collar bone (or clavicle); hence the term acromioclavicular joint. Both of these joints wear with the passage of time and often have a role in shoulder pain and discomfort
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It is important to remember that muscle tendons deteriorate with age. This is largely due to the fact that water content of tendons decreases as we age and they subsequently become less plastic and compliant. The passage of time therefore makes tendons stiffer and less able to tolerate the loads that we impose upon them. This is particularly true of the most significant tendons in the shoulder joint (the rotator cuff and biceps tendons). The rotator cuff for instance is particularly important for overall shoulder function and stability.
The anatomy of muscles in the shoulder is complicated. There are groups of different muscles that serve different functions. These functions include stabilising the shoulder joint, fixing the shoulder blade in postion or moving the arm. The most important muscles that stabilise the shoulder joint are the rotator cuff muscles (these are common sites of injury). Meanwhile the most significant injury sites specifically in the arm muscles are the biceps and triceps. In addition to this is also important to remember that the muscles that surround the shoulder blade are considered as part of shoulder anatomy. The muscles that fix the shoulder blade (Rhomboids, Trapezius and Levator scapula) act in correspondence with the arm and shoulder muscles. Trauma to any of these muscle groups will impinge on your gross shoulder function.
The main shoulder joint (the glenohumeral joint) is enclosed by what is essentially a sheet of ligaments (or capsule) that wrap around and encapsulate the head of the upper arm bone (the humerus) as it connects with the shoulder socket (called the glenoid). If the capsule is stretched in a trauma or by repetitive movements the shoulder can become unstable. The second joint in the shoulder is the acromioclavicular joint (or A/C Joint). This joint is also held together by strong ligaments. Sprains often happen during a fall, when your hand or arm is outstretched to stop a fall.
Frozen shoulder is a condition that leads to pain, stiffness and progressive loss of movement in the shoulder. It is also known as adhesive capsulitis and the reasons for it occurring are not always clear. What we do know is that amount of fluid (synovial fluid) that serves to lubricate the shoulder joint significantly decreases. This causes the joint capasule that surronds the joint to stick together. The symptoms tend to gradually worsen over a number of months causing gradual loss of movement and pain that is evident especially when lifting your arm.
In order to make the shoulder socket a deeper cup or socket for the upper arm bone to fit into, the outer rim of the cup is ringed by a tough flexible tissue called a labrum. This makes the shoulder much more congruous (joins together better). If this is torn it can cause a feeling of looseness and instability. Bursae are another common cause of shoulder pain. Bursae are structures that occur throughout the body and they are basically little sacks of fluid that typically occur between bony surfaces and overlying soft tissue (such as a tendon). There are roughly 160 in the body in total. They essentially act as little cushions that help to prevent the affect of friction. The main bursa in the shoulder joint (sub-acromial bursa) is a common cause of pain as it can potenetially become calcified or inflammed.
It is important to remember that another misleading aspect of shoulder pain is that it can be referred pain from somewhere else (all of which are very treatable with osteopathy). Most common causes of referred pain include nerve or joint pain from the neck (trapped nerve), muscular referred pain from the shoulder blade or rib pain.