Shoulder functions depend on multiple components working together to perform desired tasks, including muscles (rotator cuff, etc.), tendons, ligaments, cartilage and bone. Certain injuries or problems can arise involving any of these components of the shoulder that can contribute to shoulder dysfunction.
Dysfunction can result in pain, weakness, a decreased range of motion, instability or a combination of these issues. Many issues in the shoulder can be managed with non-operative measures such as rest, ice, medications (anti-inflammatory i.e. Aleve/Ibuprofen) and physical therapy. For other conditions further intervention such as steroid/cortisone injections or surgical intervention may be required.
If you are having persisting pain, weakness, loss of motion or feelings of instability compromising your function or quality of life, you should consider seeking medical evaluation by your primary care doctor or orthopedic surgeon. Along with a clinical examination, evaluation will likely include x-rays and possibly an MRI.
Common Shoulder Injuries
Separation actually refers to injury to the acromioclavicular (AC) joint as opposed to the actual shoulder. This is a small joint consisting of the junction of the collarbone (clavicle) and acromion (part of the scapula, aka, shoulder blade). Injury typically involves a forceful fall onto the shoulder that stretches or disrupts the joint capsule or the associated ligaments, which stabilize the collarbone.
You may notice swelling, a bump or prominence at the end of the collarbone at the top of the shoulder. This injury does not usually require surgery, but instead medical management and therapy. Severe cases may require ligament reconstruction and stabilization of the collarbone.