Carolinas HealthCare System
Orthopedics
Orthopedics

Shoulder and Elbow

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Our shoulders and elbows play essential roles in our daily lives, allowing us to work, play and perform everyday activities. The function of our shoulders and elbows is entirely dependent on the integrity of the ligaments, tendons, muscles and bones that them.

At Carolinas HealthCare System, our physicians are highly-trained in numerous surgical techniques and non-surgical treatment plans designed to restore function and range of motion to patients' lives. Our physicians have dedicated their practices to applying emerging technologies and progressive methods for accurately diagnosing and treating conditions of the upper extremities. Whether your condition is due to arthritis, a sports injury, an accident, a work-related injury or a congenital disorder, Carolinas HealthCare System can help you achieve restored function and quality of life.

Shoulder

The shoulder consists of two joints (AC joint, glenohumeral joint) and three bones (clavicle, scapula, humerus) that connect the upper limbs to the rest of the skeleton and provide a large range of movement.

The bones of the shoulder are held together by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Tendons (tough cords of tissue that attach the shoulder muscles to bone) and ligaments (attach bones to bones) provide additional strength and stability.

The rotator cuff muscles hold the 'ball' in the 'socket' and provide mobility and strength to the shoulder joint. Two bursae cushion and protect the rotator cuff from the bony arch of the acromion and allow smooth movement of the joint.

All of these components of your shoulder - along with the muscles of your upper body - work together to manage the stress your shoulder receives as you extend, flex, lift and throw. The shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body and is very unstable. It is easily injured by impact or overuse. With a design that provides maximum mobility and range of motion, the shoulder is extremely complex.

Rotator cuff tears and treatment optionsShoulder Diagram:

  • Rotator Cuff Tear: A muscle or tendon tears in the cuff surrounding the shoulder joint.
  • Shoulder Arthritis: Deterioration of the joint's cartilage and lining that causes pain and swelling.
  • Shoulder Impingement: The rotator cuff becomes pinched between two shoulder bones when the arm is raised.
  • Shoulder Separation: This occurs when the normal alignment is disrupted in the acromioclavicular joint (AC joint).
  • SLAP Tear: An injury to the labrum, the shoulder socket lining, where it attaches to the bicep.
  • Traumatic Shoulder Instability: The normal ball in socket formation is disrupted from several shoulder dislocations

Elbow

The elbow is a hinge joint made up of the humerus, ulna and radius. The unique positioning and interaction of the bones in the joint allows for a small amount of rotation as well as hinge action. This rotation is easily noticed during activities such as hand-to-mouth eating motions.

Some of the most common injuries to the elbow include:

  • Elbow Bursitis: The bursa, which allows movement of skin over bone, becomes inflamed and fills with fluid.
  • Forearm Fracture: The radius and/or ulna in the forearm can be broken from a fall or a direct blow.
  • Osteoarthritis of the Elbow: The cartilage deteriorates in the joint and the surface loses its ability to prevent shock to the joint.
  • Rupture of the Distal Biceps Tendon at the Elbow: The tendon pulls away from where it is attached to the forearm and causes a rupture.
  • Tennis Elbow: A painful irritation in the elbow that is often caused by overuse.

To learn more about orthopedic physicians specializing in elbow and shoulder conditions, visit our physician directory.

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