Shoulder & Elbow

Conditions We Treat

  • Shoulder Conditions
  • Elbow Conditions

Articular Cartilage Damage:The articular cartilage is the smooth tissue that covers the ends of bones in our joints. When this cartilage wears away over years of use, the bones rub against each other and cause pain. Doctors at UR Medicine's Orthopaedics & Physical Performance can repair tears and use advanced techniques to stimulate the growth of new cartilage.

Bursitis: Sacs called bursae live between the bone and muscle in your joints. These bursae are filled with a fluid that the body uses to lubricate the joint. Stress from arthritis, repeated small injuries, or a sudden major injury can irritate the bursae, causing intense pain.

Collarbone Injuries: The collarbone is actually part of the shoulder, holding it in place and protecting blood vessels and nerves in the neck. When the collarbone separates from the shoulder blade in an accident, the ligaments can tear. Damage to the collarbone can affect blood flow and prevent the shoulder from moving properly.

Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis): When pain and stiffness in your shoulder make it hard for you to move your arm, you probably have frozen shoulder. Physical therapy and daily care will help this over time—but some cases require injections or surgery to correct the problem.

Joint Instability:When the ligaments, tendons and muscles in your shoulder become loose or torn, they can't hold the joint bones in place properly. This condition can come from a series of sports injuries, a fall onto your shoulder, or from working over your head for long periods.

Nerve Entrapment: A pinched or trapped nerve in the shoulder can cause considerable pain, tingling, numbness, and other discomfort.

Rotator Cuff Injuries: The most common set of injuries to the shoulder center on the rotator cuff, the group of muscles and tendons that connect the upper arm to the shoulder blade. You may have a tear, a strain from working over your head, or a frozen shoulder (see above), or the rotator cuff tendons could be squeezed between two bones (see Shoulder Impingement, below).

Separated Shoulder: Ligaments attach your shoulder blade to your collarbone. When these ligaments get stretched too far, the shoulder may separate from the collarbone. This is not a dislocation, but you will feel pain in your shoulder and weakness in your arm, and you may see swelling and bruising.

Shoulder Arthritis: Loss of cartilage—the rubbery covering between the bones in all of your joints—can cause the bones to run together. This painful condition can be relieved through minimally invasive surgery in some cases, but it often leads to a full joint replacement.

Shoulder Dislocation: The shoulder, elbow, knee, hip, and ankle are the most common joints to become dislocated, but any joint in the body can slip out of its correct position on impact. This painful condition is considered a medical emergency, especially if you can't tell if the bones are dislocated or broken.

Shoulder Fractures: All broken bones are known as fractures. Any bone in your body can break, and the break can be simple or complex. Serious fractures can affect the tissue surrounding the bone, causing infection or damage to blood vessels. If you believe you have a fracture, go directly to the Emergency Department.

Shoulder Impingement: When the acromion—the bone on top of your shoulder—rubs against the tendons in the rotator cuff, it can cause irritation and pain known as impingement. The pain often comes from a bone spur, or from irritation of the bursae, the small sacs of lubricant between the bones, tendons, and muscles in each joint.

SLAP Tears: In addition to rotator cuff injuries, tears in the superior labrum anterior to posterior (SLAP) are the most common shoulder problems, especially for athletes that throw overhand. You may feel pain at the top of the shoulder, where the SLAP is located. A catching sensation and pain with specific arm positions are also typical of this injury.

Sprains and Strains: Participation in sports can result in all kinds of injuries to your body's soft tissue—ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Sprained knees, ankles, and wrists are injuries to the ligaments. Strains—most often in a leg or foot—occur when you injure a muscle or a tendon.

Torn or Detached Glenoid Labrum: The socket on the shoulder blade called the glenoid holds the head of the upper arm bone. To hold the upper arm bone in place, the glenoid has a soft tissue lining called the labrum that cushions the hone in the socket. When the glenoid labrum tears, it can cause pain when you reach your arms over your head, and your shoulder may pop or feel loose.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: Like its better known wrist injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome is the result of pressure on the elbow—either from leaning on it for a long time, or from holding it in a bent position (when typing, using a mouse, or repeatedly throwing a ball). You may feel pain and numbness in your elbow, tingling in your fingers, or weakness in your ring finger and your little finger. Your hand's grip may weaken, and you may have trouble touching your little finger to your thumb.

Elbow Joint Arthritis: Two things are the most likely causes of osteoarthritis in the elbow: a major injury like a fracture or dislocation, or wear and tear over the course of your lifetime. When the cartilage in the joint wears away, the bones grind together and cause painful inflammation.

Fractures: All broken bones are known as fractures. Your break can be simple or complex—and serious fractures can affect the tissue surrounding the bone, causing infection or damage to blood vessels. If you believe you have a fracture, go directly to the Emergency Department.

Golfer's and Baseball Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis):When you have pain at the point where the forearm tendons attach to the inner elbow, you have golfer's elbow. The golf swing is only one repetitive motion that can cause this injury—baseball players also may develop this localized pain.

Recurrent and Chronic Elbow Instability: If your elbow tends to slide out of place when you move your arm in certain ways, you probably have an instability. This condition can come after a dislocation, or it may be the result of damage to the ligaments in your arm.

Tendinitis: Swelling, pain, redness, and heat from an injury are all symptoms of tendinitis. The pain and irritation come from a series of small stresses to a tendon. If you play baseball, tennis, or golf, you may get tendinitis in your shoulder or arm. People who use computers or mobile phones for long periods every day can develop tendinitis as well.

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): When the large tendons attached to the elbow from the forearm are injured by repetitive motion, they become painful. Tennis players know this well, because hitting the ball backhand causes this irritation of the tendons. People who use a screwdriver or even a computer mouse for hours at a time may develop this painful condition as well.

UCL injury: Repeated motion—like a pitcher throwing a curve ball—can stretch, tear or break the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), the band of tissue on the torso side of the elbow. When the UCL is damaged, you will feel pain on the inside of the elbow, and you may feel some grinding or popping in your elbow as well.

Medicine of the Highest Order