Our surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital who specialize in shoulder and elbow treatment manage both operative and non-operative treatment of athletic, traumatic, and degenerative problems.
The shoulder and elbow joints allow us to bend, flex, reach and rotate our arms, but repetitive overhead movements common to some sports and jobs, frequently overstress the elbow and shoulder joints.
Both surgical and non-surgical treatments are considered to ease pain and help restore movement when conditions impede movement.
- The shoulder is a ball and socket joint
- The ball is called the head of the humerus and the socket is called the glenoid; sometimes, arthritis can form here
- On top of this joint is another bone known as the acromion; a frequent place for bone spurs to form
- Next to the acromion is the acromioclavicular joint or "AC joint"; a common place for shoulder separations
- A group of four muscles called the rotator cuff helps move your shoulder joint. These muscles work together to help get your arm up over your head and rotate it in and out
- Rotator cuff injuries usually result in weakness, especially in trying to raise the arm overhead
- One of the four muscles is injured much more frequently than the others: the supraspinatus muscle
- Rotator cuff muscles function to help keep your shoulder in socket, or located (when the shoulder comes out of the socket, it is called dislocated)
- There are also several ligaments in your shoulder that help to keep it in place
- Finally, there is an "O-ring" around the socket, called the labrum. It helps keep your shoulder in the socket; it causes pain and popping when it is torn
It is best to avoid surgery altogether if possible, so in order to avoid experiencing shoulder pain, you should keep yourself physically fit with a balanced program of aerobics, stretching, and strengthening all body parts to help prevent shoulder injuries. However, if you think you have injured your shoulder, you should consult a physician or physical therapist before starting an exercise program. The condition may aggravate until you do so. Here are a few tips to help you keep your shoulders in a healthy condition:
- Make sure you warm up your shoulder muscles before exercise, as heat prepares muscles and tendons for exercise
- While doing stretches for the shoulder, keep your arm below shoulder height
- Gradually increase movements during shoulder warm-up
- Pendulum stretching exercises relieve pressure on the rotator cuff; as symptoms improve, the diameter of the swing may be increased; progressively add more weight, as shoulder pain improves
- Muscle-strengthening exercises can be performed about one to two weeks after doing pendulum stretching exercises; use elastic exercise bands for a variety of arm exercises
- The elbow is a hinge joint, which means the joint is moving in one direction and permitting only flexion and extension
- The elbow joint is formed by three bones: the humerus in the upper arm, and the bones of the forearm (the radius laterally and the ulna medially)
- The trochlea of the humerus articulating with the ulna, and the capitulum of the humerus articulating with the head of the radius forms the elbow joint
- There are two sets of articulations, but there is only one joint capsule and a large bursa to lubricate the joint
- The elbow joint maintains its stability with an extensive network of ligaments
- The ligaments of the elbow joint include: the ulnar collateral ligaments, the radial collateral ligaments, and the annular ligaments
- The elbow is a common site for injury because many muscles originate or insert near the elbow
One common injury is lateral epicondylitis or "tennis elbow" when inflammation occurs surrounding the lateral epicondyle of the humerus.
Injuries are the most common cause of elbow pain, but symptoms can begin gradually or during everyday activities. Because older adults lose muscle mass and bone strength (osteoporosis) as they age, they have a higher risk for injuries and fractures. Elbow injuries occur most commonly during sports or recreational activities, work-related tasks, work or projects around the home, and falls.
Here are a few tips to help you keep your elbows in a healthy condition:
- If you have had an elbow injury in the past, use ice or ibuprofen after the activity to prevent swelling and pain
- Keep your elbow warm during activities by using an "elbow sleeve"
- Perform regular stretching and strengthening exercises
- Prevent further injury and reduce pain to an injured or rehabilitated area by wearing an "elbow band"
- Reduce how much time you spend doing the activity that causes elbow pain
- Use the correct grip size, a two-handed backhand, and racquet strings that are not too tight to prevent tennis elbow
- Warm up slowly; stretch the forearm before, during, and after exercise