Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Shoulder Trauma

Shoulder trauma refers to injuries to the shoulder joint and surrounding structures, which can occur due to various mechanisms.

Mechanisms of Shoulder Trauma

Direct trauma: Falling directly onto the shoulder or a forceful impact to the shoulder area can cause injuries like dislocations, fractures, or soft tissue damage.

Indirect trauma: Injuries can also occur from indirect forces, such as falling on an outstretched arm or sudden twisting/pulling motions that stress the shoulder joint.

Overuse/repetitive stress: Repetitive overhead activities or overuse can lead to chronic shoulder injuries like rotator cuff tears or impingement.

Common Shoulder Injuries from Trauma

Dislocations: The ball of the upper arm bone (humerus) can partially or completely dislocate from the shoulder socket (glenoid). This often results from a forceful impact or extreme rotation of the arm.

Fractures: Fractures can occur in the humerus (proximal, shaft, or distal), clavicle (collarbone), or scapula (shoulder blade) due to direct trauma or falls.

Rotator cuff tears: The rotator cuff tendons that stabilize the shoulder can tear partially or completely from acute trauma or chronic degeneration.

Labral tears: The fibrocartilaginous labrum that lines the shoulder socket can tear from traumatic dislocations or repetitive overhead activities.

Acromioclavicular (AC) joint separation: The ligaments connecting the clavicle and acromion can tear, causing a visible bump on the shoulder from dislocation of these bones.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

  • Pain, swelling, bruising, and limited range of motion are common symptoms of shoulder trauma.
  • Physical examination and imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, or MRI are used to diagnose the specific injury and extent of damage.


Treatment depends on the type and severity of the injury, ranging from conservative measures like immobilization, physical therapy, and medication to surgical interventions for fractures, dislocations, or severe soft tissue tears. In summary, shoulder trauma can result from direct impacts, indirect forces, or overuse, leading to various injuries like dislocations, fractures, rotator cuff tears, and other soft tissue damage. Prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment are crucial for proper healing and restoring shoulder function.

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