What it is

153066789.jpgThree bones come together at the shoulder—the clavicle (collarbone), scapula (shoulder blade) and humerus (upper arm). Muscles, ligaments and tendons add to this joint’s complexity and stability.  The shoulder is considered a ball and socket joint but it has a very small and shallow socket, so it relies heavily on ligaments and tendons to keep it from dislocating.

What it does

The shoulder is one of our most mobile joints, allowing arms wide movement. Think of all the times you move your arms to reach above your head, lift a box, swing a club or racket—your shoulder plays a part.

Common injuries

Excessive, repetitive motions in sports, such as swimming or tennis, and even everyday activities, such as gardening, can cause shoulder trouble. Among common injuries are rotator cuff tears, inflamed bicep tendons, cartilage tears and arthritis.


An active lifestyle is the key to keeping joints healthy.

Don’t let the fear of injury keep you from staying active. Just be prepared. Don’t do any overhead activities before you’re in shape for it. An active lifestyle is the key to keeping joints healthy. One important aspects of a healthy shoulder is strengthening the muscles of the upper back. These muscles control the shoulder blade and make sure it moves in concert with the collar bone and humerus to avoid injury to the rotator cuff.  Core muscle strength also helps protect the shoulder from injury especially in overhead activities such as tennis or softball.  Talk to your physician before starting a new exercise to make sure you have no preexisting conditions that could cause injury later.


An orthopedic surgeon can recommend several ways to strengthen your shoulder and lessen pain. In some cases, anti-inflammatory medication or a steroid injection may be prescribed.