Shoulder, Elbow and Hand
Shoulder problems elbow problems hand problems
Everyone has occasional discomfort in the shoulder including aches and pains. Your shoulder joints move all day long, every time you move your arms.
So it’s not surprising that shoulder problems may develop from overuse or even everyday “wear and tear”. Shoulder problems can also occur from injuries or the natural process of aging. It may be helpful to know the makeup of the shoulder to better understand shoulder problems and injuries. The shoulder is what is called a “ball-and-socket joint” with 3 main bones, the upper arm bone (humerus), collarbone (clavicle), and shoulder blade (scapula).
These bones are held together in a joint by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The shoulder joint has the largest range of motion of any joint in the body. Because of this increased mobility, the shoulder is at higher risk for injury and problems. The acromioclavicular (AC) joint which is located above the shoulder is also at risk for injury.
Symptoms of a shoulder problem may include:
- Swelling or bruising.
- Stiffness, weakness, or decreased movement.
- A clicking, popping, or grating sound or feeling.
- A feeling of looseness or instability.
Injuries are the most common cause of shoulder problems. You may not remember a specific injury, especially if your symptoms began gradually or during everyday activities.
- Overuse injuries (such as bursitis, tendinitis, bicipital tendinitis, or muscle strain) occur from repeating the performing the same activity over and over. The repeated activity (such as throwing, lifting, or reaching) stresses the shoulder joint and may cause irritation and inflammation. A frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) often involves stiffness and reduced shoulder movement and may follow an overuse injury.
- Overhead arm movements may cause tendons to rub against a part of the shoulder blade called the acromion. This scraping may lead to an abrasion or inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons (also called impingement syndrome).
- A sudden (acute) injury may occur from a fall on an outstretched arm, a direct injury to the shoulder, or abnormal twisting of the shoulder. Examples of acute injuries include a torn rotator cuff, dislocated shoulder, (type of strain), sprained shoulder, or fracture.
- Pain can be very sudden and even severe. Bruising and swelling may develop within minutes of the injury.
- If nerves or blood vessels have been injured during the injury, the shoulder, arm, or hand problems can feel numb, tingly, weak, or cold or may look pale or blue.
There are many other possible causes of shoulder pain beside those above.
- Muscle tension and/or poor posture may cause shoulder discomfort, especially if you are experiencing a lot of stress or sit with a rounded posture.
- Pain that is not related to movement of your neck, shoulder, or arm or that occurs with symptoms elsewhere in the body, such as the chest or other parts of the trunk, may be referred shoulder pain.
- Pain that is worse in the morning and improves during the rest of the day be caused by osteoarthritis. This may develop from injury or simple wear and tear.
- Pain and occasional locking of the shoulder may be caused by calcium deposits in the shoulder joint.
- Shoulder and arm pain that worsens when you move your neck may be caused by an injured or pinched nerve or a herniated disc in the neck.
- Gradual onset of shoulder pain, especially if associated with night pain, weight loss, fever, or chills, may be related to a tumor of the bone and should be carefully examined by a doctor.
Treatment for a shoulder problems or injury may include first aid measures, physical therapy, chiropractic care, medication, and even some cases surgery. Treatment depends on:
- The type, location, and severity of the shoulder problem.
The age, health status, and activities requirements of the patient.
Elbow Problems and Elbow Injuries
Everyone has had a minor elbow injury or problem. Most people have bumped or hit their “funny bone” at the back of your elbow, causing shooting numbness and pain. The funny-bone sensation can be very strong, but it is usually not serious and goes away in short time. Maybe your elbow became sore after some exercise or physical activity. Home treatment often can help reduce these minor aches and pains. Injuries (trauma) are the most common cause of elbow pain. Some people may not recall having a hurt themselves, especially if symptoms began slowly or during everyday activities. Overuse injuries (such as bursitis or tendinitis) occur from doing the same movement over and over. This repeated activity (such as throwing, lifting, or using a hand tool) stresses joints and other surrounding tissues and may lead to irritation, inflammation, and eventually pain.
- Soreness or pain felt on the outside (lateral) part of the elbow may be what is commonly called “tennis elbow” (lateral epicondylitis). This is the most frequently encountered type of tendinitis that affects the elbow and most often occurs when a person overuses the forearm muscles. This overuse may occur during sports (tennis), jobs (such as carpentry, typing) or daily activities (such as lifting objects).
- Soreness or pain in the inner (medial) part of the elbow may be “golfer’s elbow” (medial humeral epicondylitis). In children who paly in sports that involve a a lot of throwing, the this type elbow pain may be described as “Little Leaguer’s elbow.”
- Swelling on the back side of the arm, behind the elbow may be olecranon bursitis (Popeye elbow).
A sudden (acute) injury may occur from a direct hit to the elbow, a fall on onto the elbow or arm, or from twisting, or bending the arm abnormally. An acute injury includes:
- Dislocated elbow
In an acute injury:
- Pain may occur suddenly and become severe. Bruising and swelling may be occur and may develop within a few minutes of the injury.
- Nerves or blood vessels may be injured or pinched during the injury if the trauma is significant. As a result, the elbow, forearm, or hand may feel numb, tingly, weak, or cold; or the skin may look pale or blue.
Elbow injuries can occur commonly in children because they use their outstretched arms to protect themselves when they fall. Elbow pain or discomfort is not always caused by injury. However, a previous injury or overuse may increase your likelihood of getting an elbow problem.
- Pain that is worse in the morning or early in the day and improves during the remainder of day may be caused by osteoarthritis, which may develop from injury or simple wear and tear. There are many other types of arthritis as well that can affect the elbow, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and lupus.
- Pain that occurs in an elbow that is accompanied by redness, swelling, warmth, fever, chills, or even pus may be an infection. There are many types of infection which include skin infections (cellulitis), a pus-filled pocket (abscess) just under the skin surface or deep in tissue, joint infections (infectious arthritis or septic bursitis), or bone infections (osteomyelitis).
- Occasionally elbow pain is caused by a pinched nerve (numbness and tingling is often present) from the neck or a problem elsewhere in the body, such as the heart which is referring pain to the arm.
Treatment for an elbow problem or injury depends on:
- The type, location, and severity of the injury or problem.
- The age, health condition, and activities (such as jobs, sports, or hobbies) of the individual.
Treatment may include first aid measures, physical therapy, chiropractic care, medication and, in rare cases, even surgery. A child with an elbow problem, pain or injury may need medical evaluation to rule out the possibility that damage has not occurred to the bony growth plates at the end of their bones.
Finger Hand and Wrist Injuries
Everyone has had a minor finger, hand, or wrist problem that caused pain or swelling at one time or another. Most of the time our body movements do not cause problems, but occasionally symptoms develop from everyday wear and tear, overuse, or an injury. Finger, hand, or wrist injuries can occur during:
- Work-related activities.
- Work around the home, especially if using machineryand hand tools.
- Accidental falls or injuries.
The risk of finger, hand, or wrist injury is higher in contact sports, such as football, or soccer and high-speed sports, such as biking, skating, skiing, and snowboarding. Sports that require weight-bearing on the hands and arms, such as gymnastics, can cause injury. Sports that use hand equipment such as hockey or racquets also increase the risk of injury. In children, most finger, hand, or wrist injuries occur during sports or accidental falls. Any injury occurring at the end of a long bone near a joint may injure the growth plate and needs to be evaluated by the medical personnel. Older adults are at greater risk for injuries and fractures because they lose muscle mass and bone strength (osteopenia) as they age which makes the slightly more susceptible to injury. They may also have more problems with vision and balance, which increases their risk of accidental injury. Most minor injuries will heal on their own and all that is usually needed is a little home treatment or care to relieve symptoms and promote healing. Sudden (acute) injury: Everyone has had a minor finger, hand, or wrist problem that caused pain or swelling at one time or another. Most of the time our body movements do not cause problems, but occasionally symptoms develop from everyday wear and tear, overuse, or an injury. Finger, hand, or wrist injuries can occur during:
- Bruises. After a wrist or hand injury, bruising may occur which can extend to the fingers from the effects of gravity.
- Injuries to ligaments or tendons.
- Injuries to joints (sprains).
- Pulled muscles (strains).
- Broken bones (fractures), such as a wrist fracture.
- Crushing injury, which can lead to compartment syndrome.
Overuse injuries: Overuse injuries occur when too excessive stress is placed on a joint or other tissue, most often by “overdoing” an activity or repeating the same activity too much. Overuse injuries include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treatment: Overuse injuries occur when too excessive stress is placed on a joint or other tissue, most often by “overdoing” an activity or repeating the same activity too much. Overuse injuries include:
- The type, location, and severity of the injury.
- How long ago it has been since the injury occurred.
- The age, health condition, and activities (such as work, sports, or hobbies) of the patient.