The shoulder muscles and ligaments allow us to perform a wide range of movements. The ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder is composed of 3 major bones:

  • The Humerusthe long bone located in your upper arm
  • The Scapula – the shoulder blade
  • The Clavicle – also known as the collar bone

A layer of cartilage cushions these bones and acts as protection against injuries and fractures. The joints of the shoulders are the most mobile part of the body. Unfortunately, they’re also quite susceptible to injuries and strains.

Most people don’t think too much about the importance of the free movement of the shoulder until they’re unable to do so. Painful shoulder injuries can make simple tasks – such as taking a shower or brushing your hair – extremely difficult. Understanding the common causes of shoulder injuries can help you manage your pain or prevent further injury.

Here are some common shoulder problems to look out for:

Rotator Cuff Injuries

The shoulder joint is surrounded by a group of four muscles and connected tendons, known collectively as the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff connects the upper arm bone (humerus) and the shoulder blade (scapula), and is responsible for the movement of your arm and shoulder.

Overuse of the rotator cuff and cause problems such as strains, tendon tears, or tendonitis. These injuries cause pain in the side and front of the shoulder, as well as a general feeling of stiffness in the shoulder muscles. The most common causes of these injuries are activities that involve using your arms overhead, such as painting, tennis, or yoga.

Osteoarthritis and Arthritis

Arthritis is a degenerative condition in which bones do not get adequate nutrition, causing them to deteriorate and weaken. When a bone is weakened by osteoarthritis, the musculature surrounding the bone must work harder to support your body, resulting in deep muscle pains and stiffness.

Osteoarthritis often progresses to arthritis. People who suffer from these conditions often lose the ability to reach behind their back. Older people are more vulnerable to arthritis, but it can develop at any age. Previous injuries or a family history can also increase your risk of developing arthritis.

Adhesive Capsulitis

Adhesive capsulitis – more commonly known as “frozen shoulder” – occurs when the shoulder becomes stiffer and more immobile over time. A frozen shoulder causes constant pain in the shoulder joint, even while resting. The pain also worsens with movements. Unfortunately, the causes of this condition are poorly understood. However, studies have found that people with autoimmune diseases, diabetes, heart disease, and other systemic diseases are at an increased risk of developing a frozen shoulder. People who are prone to joint inflammation are also more susceptible to frozen shoulders.


Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute is the leading sports medicine, physiotherapy, and chiropractic clinic in the Greater Toronto Area. We offer expert diagnoses, a variety of treatment options, and high-quality care. Click here to learn more about the services we offer, or contact us to schedule an appointment.