Shoulder injuries and conditions

Dr. Bales is a fellowship-trained surgeon who specializes in arthroscopic surgery for shoulder injuries and conditions. The following are the most common injuries that Dr. Bales treats in his practice.

Rotator Cuff Tear

A rotator cuff tear is a common cause of pain and disability among adults. A torn rotator cuff weakens the shoulder and makes daily activities painful and difficult to do.

Most rotator cuff tears are largely caused by normal wear and tear that comes along with aging. People who do repetitive lifting or overhead activities are also at risk for rotator cuff tears. Athletes are especially vulnerable to overuse tears, particularly tennis players and baseball pitchers. Most tears in young adults are caused by a traumatic injury such as a fall.

For about 50 percent of rotator cuff tears, nonsurgical treatment relieves pain and improves function in the shoulder; however, shoulder strength does not usually improve without surgery.

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Labral Tears

A superior labrum anterior and posterior (SLAP) tear is an injury to the labrum of the shoulder, which is a ring of cartilage that surrounds the socket of the shoulder joint.

SLAP tears can be caused by acute trauma or by repetitive shoulder motion, including a car accident, a fall on an outstretched arm, forceful pulling on the arm, rapid or forceful movement of the arm when it is above the level of the shoulder and a shoulder dislocation.

People who participate in repetitive overhead sports, such as throwing athletes or weightlifters, can experience labrum tears as a result of repeated shoulder motion.

Many SLAP tears are the result of wearing down the labrum, which occurs slowly over time.

In most cases, initial treatment for a SLAP tear is nonsurgical. Surgery may be necessary if your pain causes disability and is not relieved with nonsurgical methods.

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Shoulder dislocations

Although the shoulder joint is the body’s most mobile joint, it also makes the shoulder an easy joint to dislocate. A partial dislocation (subluxation) means the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) is partially out of the socket (glenoid).

A complete dislocation means it is all the way out of the socket.

The shoulder joint can dislocate forward, backward or downward. The most common type of shoulder dislocation is when the shoulder slips forward (anterior instability). This means the upper arm bone moved forward and down out of its joint. It may happen when the arm is put in a throwing position.

The immediate treatment for a dislocated shoulder is a closed reduction. After the shoulder is reduced, the patient is placed in a sling. In patients with recurrent instability or athletes participating in contact sports, surgery may be recommended to help stabilize the shoulder.

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Shoulder Impingement

The rotator cuff is a common source of pain in the shoulder and can be a result of tendinitis, bursitis or impingement. Rotator cuff pain is common in both young athletes and middle-aged people. Young athletes who use their arms overhead for swimming, baseball and tennis are particularly vulnerable. Also, repetitive lifting or overhead activities such as construction and painting are also susceptible. Pain can also develop due to a minor injury or occur with no apparent cause.

Non-surgical and surgical treatment options are available. Dr. Bales will consider your age, activity level, general health and type of tear you have before deciding on the best treatment plan for you.

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