What are Common Shoulder and Elbow Injuries?

Experienced New York orthopedic surgeons explain what you need to know

Dealing with a serious shoulder and elbow injury? Not sure what type of injury you have or what to do now? Don’t give up. We can help. Our experienced, New York orthopedic surgeons at Island Musculoskeletal Care (IMC Bone Doc) have helped countless people with serious injuries. We know what to do because our doctors have more than 100 years of combined medical experience.

Don’t wait to treat your shoulder or elbow injury. In many cases, the longer you wait, the more severe your injury can become. That’s why it’s important to have a doctor examine you and determine exactly what’s wrong. Our board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons can evaluate you using state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment. This often includes using MRI machines, which we have in each one of our seven office locations.

After we determine what’s wrong, we can then explain the different shoulder and elbow medical procedures that apply to your injury. That way, you can decide which approach makes the most sense for you. In many cases, the cost of your medical care may be fully covered by your health insurance or workers’ compensation insurance. Our medical practice is in network and accepted by most major insurance providers.

Learn more about the most effective ways to treat your elbow or shoulder injury. Contact us and schedule an appointment. Many of our surgeons have immediate appointments available – including many same day appointments – at our seven clinics in greater New York City and Long Island. Best of all, we will do everything we can to schedule all your treatments at the same office location. Make an appointment online or by calling 1-888-BONE-DOC (266-3362).

What type of shoulder or elbow injury do you have?

Don’t see your specific injury listed below? Don’t worry. There are many different types of elbow and shoulder injuries. Our doctors know how to diagnose all different kinds. It’s also important to remember that no two injuries are ever exactly the same. That’s why it’s important to have a doctor examine you and determine exactly what’s wrong.

What is a rotator cuff tear?

The tendons in the shoulder are known collectively as the rotator cuff. When these tendons tear, such a shoulder injury can be very painful and result in reduced range of motion in the shoulder. That’s why a rotator cuff tear requires immediate medical attention.

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What does shoulder pain mean?

Shoulder pain can mean many different things. Sometimes, it may just a minor bruise or injury. Or pain could be a symptom of a much more serious medical condition. That’s why it’s critical that you have one of our experienced shoulder surgeons examine the injured area and diagnose exactly what’s wrong.

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What is subluxation?

Subluxation is a medical term that refers to a partial shoulder dislocation. Specifically, this means that the ball part of the shoulder (humerus) is no longer firmly held in place in the shoulder socket (glenoid). Our doctors can examine you and determine if a subluxation of the shoulder has occurred, then explain the best possible treatment options.

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What is shoulder impingement?

Shoulder impingement refers to medical condition in which the tendons in the shoulder become inflamed, often resulting in shoulder pain. Shoulder impingement is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain. Non-surgical medical care can sometimes resolve such injuries. Surgery may be necessary in certain circumstances.

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What are SLAP tears?

The acronym SLAP refers to superior-labrum anterior posterior. A SLAP tear affects the cup-shaped rim near the ball socket in the shoulder. When a SLAP tear or SLAP lesion occurs, sever shoulder pain is common, along with reduced range of motion and difficulty lifting heavy objects.

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What is arthritis of the shoulder?

Arthritis is often due to inflammation of joints in a particular part of the body. In addition, arthritis involves the wearing away of cartilage in a joint, which results in the bones in this part of the body rubbing together. In the case of someone’s shoulder, there are two main types of shoulder arthritis – osteoarthritis (a degenerative form of arthritis often due to wear and tear in older adults) and rheumatoid arthritis (a form of arthritis often due to an infection).

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What is a frozen shoulder?

Also known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder is a medical condition in which someone has reduced range of motion in their shoulder, along with chronic shoulder pain. Frozen shoulder injuries are especially common among older adults. Arthroscopic shoulder surgery may be necessary to correct a frozen shoulder. In many cases, non-surgical medical procedures may be enough to treat such a shoulder injury.

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What is shoulder instability?

This chronic medical condition refers to frequent shoulder dislocations. Shoulder instability often occurs when ball portion of the shoulder (referred to as the humerus) slips out of the socket portion of the shoulder (glenoid). This chronic medical condition can be painful and could result in additional damage to the shoulder. That’s why it’s critical that someone with shoulder instability seeks immediate medical attention right away.

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What is a shoulder joint tear?

When a tear occurs in the shoulder joint, the normally smooth movement in the ball and socket part of the shoulder can become disrupted. As a result, the bone and cartilage in the shoulder can become unstable and result in shoulder pain and further shoulder damage. Shoulder joint tears can occur for many different reasons but sports injuries and overuse are common causes of shoulder joint tears, which often require surgery to repair.

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What is shoulder trauma?

Shoulder trauma is a broad medical term used to describe a wide range of shoulder injuries. In most cases, shoulder trauma refers to a bone fracture or broken bone which occurs in the shoulder. Many should bone fractures occur because of a single, high-impact event, such as a fall or blow to the shoulder. Shoulder trauma can also occur slowly over time due to overuse. Types of shoulder fractures include simple fractures (broken bones are aligned and stable), unstable fractures (broken bones are displaced and misaligned) and compound fractures (broken bones protrude through the skin).

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What is thoracic outlet syndrome?

The thoracic outlet is a ring-shaped space located near the top of the ribs below the collarbone. Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a medical condition in which the blood vessels or nerves become compressed in this part of the body located near the shoulder. As a result, people with TOS often experience a sharp, burning pain in their shoulders and neck, as well as a reduced range of motion in their arms.

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What is a dislocated shoulder?

A dislocated shoulder simply refers to an injury in which the bones in the shoulder are moved out of place. Also sometimes described as a shoulder subluxation or shoulder joint instability, a dislocated shoulder can be a very painful injury which may require shoulder surgery. Physical rehabilitation is often often necessary for such shoulder injuries in order to increase the range of motion in the shoulder. However, shoulder rehabilitation exercises can often only start after the pain and swelling have been reduced in the shoulder.

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What is little league shoulder?

As the name suggests, little league shoulder is a medical condition in which the growth plate in the shoulder of a child (often 10 to 15 years old) becomes injured due to overuse. Little league shoulder injuries are especially common among children who play baseball and throw a ball repeatedly. An X-Ray is often necessary to diagnose whether a child has little league shoulder. Rest and rehabilitation are then often the most common treatments for this painful medical condition.

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What is a bicep tendon tear at elbow?

The strong, cord-like tendons connecting the bicep to the elbow allow the elbow to rotate and bend in a normal, smooth manner. When the bicep tendon in the elbow is torn, such an injury can make it nearly impossible to lift an object with the injured arm. Lifting heavy objects is also often a common cause of a bicep tear at the elbow, resulting in a pop-like noise and swelling in the elbow. An X-Ray or MRI scan is often necessary to confirm that someone has a bicep tendon tear the elbow.

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What is a bicep tendon rupture?

A tendon rupture is a medical term used to describe an injury in which a tendon separates from the attached tissue or muscle. In the case of a bicep tendon rupture, the tendon becomes separated from the bicep muscle or nearby bone. Bicep tendon ruptures in the shoulder are especially common and often result in a sharp, sudden pain in the shoulder or upper arm. Sometimes, a bicep tendon rupture occurs because of a single, violent event. But often such injuries occur due to repetitive overhead movements, including lifting heavy objects, playing tennis or swimming.

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What are burners and stingers?

As the name suggests, burner and singer injuries to the shoulder are often associated with a burning or stinging sensation in this part of the body. Burners or stingers are often due to direct blow to the neck, resulting in a shooting pain in a person’s brachial plexus, which are the nerves located between the arm and neck. Athletes participating in contact sports such as football, hockey, rugby and wrestling are especially prone to sustaining stingers or burners. Treatment regimens vary depending on the severity of the injury. That’s why it’s important to have a medical professional examine you right away if you think you have sustained a burner or stinger injury.

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What is an elbow dislocation?

This medical term refers to an elbow injury in which the one or all of the three main bones in the elbow are moved out of place and not aligned properly. The three main bones in the eblow are the ulna, radius and humerus. Elbow dislocations often occur when a person falls and lands on an outstretched hand. Motor vehicle accidents are also a common cause of elbow dislocation injuries. Severe elbow pain, swelling and reduced range of motion all common symptoms of elbow dislocation. Seek immediate medical attention if you believe your elbow is dislocated.

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What is elbow (olecranon) bursitis?

The olecranon is a large, curved bone located near the back of the elbow. This bone is surrounded by a small, fluid-filled sac known as the olecranon bursa. When a bursa becomes enlarged or inflamed, that’s known as bursitis. In the case of elbow olecranon bursitis, the elbow often becomes red and swollen, forming a large lump on the end of the elbow. This is why olecranon bursitis is often called “Popeye’s elbow.” There are various medical treatments available for olecranon bursitis. That’s why it’s important that you consult with an experienced elbow surgeon as soon as possible.

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What is an elbow (olecranon) fracture?

This type of broken bone or fracture occurs in the elbow near the bony part of the ulna, the long, thin bone located in the forearm. An elbow olecranon fracture is fairly common and often results in severe elbow pain, swelling and stiffness. Non-surgical medical procedures (especially immobilizing the elbow) can be used to treat an olecranon fracture. However, surgery may be necessary in certain circumstances.

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What is ulnar nerve entrapment (cubital tunnel syndrome)?

The nerve running along the back of the elbow near the ulna bone is known as the ulnar nerve. This nerve runs through a passageway in the the elbow through muscle, bone and ligament know as the cubital tunnel. If this nerve becomes enlarged or inflamed, it often rubs up against the cubital tunnel or other parts of the body, causing pain and irritation in the elbow. This medical condition is known as cubital tunnel syndrome or ulnar nerve entrapment. There are many non-surgical and surgical treatments available for cubital tunnel syndrome. Your doctor can explain which ones make the most sense for your based on your symptoms and physical health.

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What are osteochondritis dissecans?

Osteochondritis dissecans is a medical term used to describe a bone joint disease in which the bone dies due to lack of blood flow. As a result of the lack of blood and bone death, small pieces of cartilage and bone sometimes break lose and cause joint pain and irritation. These loose bone and cartilage fragments are sometimes called “joint mice” because they can cause additional bone and cartilage loss. Osteochondritis dissecans often occur in children or adults who participate in sports such as baseball or gymnastics. This medical condition often develops slowly over time and may require surgery. There are several different surgical procedures designed to correct and repair bone and cartilage damage caused by osteochrondritis dissecans.

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What is an elbow sprain?

When the soft tissue (cartilage, tendons, ligaments, etc.) become injured around the elbow, that’s known as an elbow sprain. These types of injuries often occur because ligaments near the elbow joint become stretched or partially tear. Elbow sprains are common sports injuries. But anyone can sprain their elbow while performing other tasks, especially if they fall and land on their elbow or are involved in an accident. Generally, resting the elbow is the best way to recover from an elbow sprain. But it’s always important to have a doctor examine your elbow to determine if you have an ever more serious elbow injury.

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What is tennis elbow?

This type of elbow injury is also known by its more formal, medical term, “lateral epicondylitis.” Tennis elbow refers to the inflammation of the tendons attached to the lateral epicondyle (bone on the outside of the elbow). Tennis elbow often occurs due to overuse of the same muscles and tendons. Along with playing tennis, other common causes of tennis elbow include playing musical instruments, hammering, typing and gardening. Elbow surgery may be necessary depending on the severity of your lateral epicondylitis. One of our doctors can examine you and determine whether tennis elbow surgery is right for you.

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What is golfer’s elbow?

Also known as medial epicondrylitis, golfer’s elbow often occurs due to repetitive muscle contractions in the forearm. These repeated movements can result in inflammation of the tendons in the medial epicondyle, the bony part of the inside of the elbow. Tendon tears may also occur on the inside of the elbow as well. Whatever the specifics, golfer’s elbow can be painful and result in elbow stiffness, reduced arm strength and decreased range of motion. Surgery may be necessary in certain circumstances depending on the severity of your golfer’s elbow injury.

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What is little league elbow?

Officially known as medial apophysitis, little league elbow describes a painful medical condition often caused by repeated stress placed on the inside part of the elbow. Such stress and overuse of the elbow is common among children involved in sports which require a lot of throwing. That’s why little league elbow is a common injury sustained by young baseball pitchers. However, other people can and do sustain similar elbow injuries due to overuse or overstressing the elbow.

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What is a nursemaid’s elbow?

This type of elbow injury involves the dislocation of the radius bone, the larger of two bones in the forearm. Nursemaid’s elbow injuries often occur among young children. Specifically, such elbow injuries are often the result of a child being lifted in the air by one or both arms. Such elbow dislocation injures can be painful. If you suspect your child has a nursemaid’s elbow injury, seek immediate medical treatment. One of our experienced elbow surgeons can examine your child and determine exactly what’s wrong.

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What does elbow pain mean?

Elbow pain can mean a wide range of different things. Sometimes, pain in the elbow is due to a sprain or another seemingly minor injury. Other times, elbow pain is a symptom of a serious injury, including an elbow fracture (broken bone) or elbow dislocation (the elbow is forced out of alignment). The only way you will know the severity of your elbow injury is to have an experienced, orthopedic elbow surgeon examine you and diagnose what’s wrong. That’s why we want to meet with you and evaluate your elbow injury.

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What is a broken arm?

A broken arm is exactly how it sounds. One of the bones in your arm is broken or fractured. Sometimes, only part of the bone is broken. This is a partial fracture. Other times, the entire bone is broken. This is a complete fracture. If the broken bone punctures the skin, that’s known as a compound fracture or closed fracture. Some of the most common broken arm injuries involve two bones in the forearm – the ulna bone (which is a long, thin bone) and the radius (the larger forearm bone). You will likely need an X-Ray to confirm that your arm is broken. It’s also important to have a doctor examine your arm right away in case there are any other medical issues or injuries. Your doctor can then explain the different medical treatments available for your broken arm.

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What is a broken collarbone?

The collarbone (also known as the clavicle) is the bone that connects your breastbone (sternum) to your shoulder. When your collarbone breaks, you will often immediately notice swelling and bruising throughout your clavicle. Broken collarbone injuries are common among athletes who play contact sports, including football and hockey. Surgery may be necessary to repair and treat your broken collarbone. An X-Ray or CT scan may be required to diagnose the severity of your collarbone injury.

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What are elbow fractures in children?

Elbow fractures (or broken bones) involving the three primary bones in the elbow (ulna, radius and humerus) are fairly common injuries among children. Most elbow fractures in children occur as a result of a child falling to the ground with their hands outstretched. There are many different treatment options available for elbow fractures, including surgical and non-surgical treatment plans. That’s why it’s important to have one of our doctors examine your child and explain the best options for your child’s elbow fracture.

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What is a forearm fracture in children?

The two main bones in the forearm are the ulna (long, thin bone on the little finger side of the forearm) and the radius (the bone on the thumb side of the forearm). Often, forearm fractures (bone breaks) occur near the elbow, wrist or middle of the forearm. Sometimes, only part of the bone is broken (partial fracture). Other types of forearm fractures include a complete fracture (entire bone is broken), compound fracture (broken bone breaks skin) or hairline fracture (small crack also sometimes called a stress fracture). Surgery is often only necessary for severe forearm fractures. But regardless of what type of forearm fracture your child sustained, it’s important to have a doctor examine your child and formally diagnose their injury.

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What is a fracture of the shoulder blade (scapula)?

The shoulder blade (scapula) is a triangular shaped bone which helps connect the muscles located in the neck, chest, arms and back. If the scapula bone breaks, a person’s ability to move their arms or perform other basic tasks. Shoulder blade fractures often occur due to falling from a height onto the back or as a result of a serious motor vehicle accident. An X-Ray, CT scan or MRI is often required to determine if the shoulder blade is broken and the severity of the fracture. That’s why it’s important to have an orthopedic shoulder surgeon examine you as soon as possible.

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What is a radial head fracture?

The radius bone is one of three, major bones located in the forearm (the part of the body between the elbow and the wrist). A bone fracture (or bone break) which occurs at the top of the radius bone is known as a radial head fracture. When this cup-shaped part of the radius bone breaks, severe elbow pain, swelling and difficulty moving the arm are common. Radial head fractures often occur when someone falls with their arms outstretched and breaks their fall with their hands. A direct blow to the elbow or twisting injuries are also common causes of radial head fractures. An X-Ray or CT scan is often necessary to determine the severity of the radial head fracture. Our surgeons have years of experience properly diagnosing such injuries.

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