Shoulder Overview

Disorders of the shoulder are common and often disabling. They affect all age groups but are particularly common in individuals who are active in sport, and in work or recreation that involves overhead activities. The clinical tests and imaging modalities used to diagnose shoulder pain have advanced significantly, as have methods to treat shoulder problems. Fortunately, we are moving out of the era of a “black box” for shoulder pain into an era where the condition can be diagnosed specifically and treated rapidly and effectively.


Major conditions affecting the shoulder


There are actually relatively few diagnoses to make when considering shoulder dysfunction. The shoulder can be too loose – (shoulder instability) or too stiff (frozen shoulder), the rotator cuff can dysfunction or there may be a fracture or arthritis. These disorders account for over 95% of all shoulder conditions.

ProblemStructureAge Group
ImpingementRotator cuff fatigue30-60
Rotator cuff tearRotator cuff especially supraspinatus50+
AC joint painAC joint cartilage20-40
ArthritisGleno-humeral joint cartilage70+