What Causes Shoulder Injuries? Most Common Injuries and Causes

Sep 11, 2023

Shoulder Injuries

Garden State Pain and Orthopedics offers comprehensive treatment plans for individuals with shoulder injuries. Whether you were injured on the field, at work, or in your car, we can create a personalized healthcare plan to guide you through your pain.

Shoulder injuries can arise from a variety of causes. Whether the shoulder injury is caused by an auto accident, sporting event, or general wear and tear over time, Orthopedic physician Dr. Deepan Patel of Garden State Pain and Orthopedics has a treatment plan for you. For every patient Dr Patel develops a personalized healthcare plan that is tailored to your specific needs.


What are the most common shoulder injuries? 

Shoulder injuries are relatively common and can range from mild strains to severe traumatic injuries. Some of the most common shoulder injuries include:

  • Rotator Cuff Tears:
    • The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, providing stability and enabling a wide range of motion. Tears in the rotator cuff tendons can occur due to overuse, degeneration, or traumatic injuries.
    • Rotator cuff tears are common in athletes, specifically baseball and softball players. 
  • Shoulder Impingement:
    • This condition involves the compression or pinching of the tendons and bursa (fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction) in the shoulder joint. It often results from repetitive overhead movements or poor shoulder mechanics.
    • Shoulder impingements are common amongst competitive weight lifting athletes, as well as common gym goers.
    • We also see shoulder impingement in individuals who have high demand jobs such as delivery drivers and construction workers. If your job requires lifting objects over your head, you are at risk of shoulder impingement. 
  • Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis):
    • Frozen shoulder is characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint, often limiting its range of motion. It can develop gradually and is more common in individuals with certain medical conditions.
    • Individuals can develop frozen shoulders from lack of use- oftentimes this lack of use stems from a prior injury that causes inflammation and pain in the shoulder. It is important to see a provider if you experience pain and inflammation to prevent conditions like frozen shoulders. 
  • Labral Tears:
    • The labrum is a cartilage ring that surrounds the shoulder socket (glenoid). Tears in the labrum can result from trauma or repetitive motions and can lead to pain, instability, and limited shoulder function.
    • Labral tears are common amongst athletes that involve throwing motions and swinging motions (Baseball, Golf, Softball).
  • Shoulder Dislocation:
    • A shoulder dislocation occurs when the humeral head (the upper arm bone) comes out of the shoulder socket. This is often the result of a traumatic injury and can cause intense pain and instability.
    • This can happen in car accidents and contact sports such as rugby and football. 
  • Bursitis:
    • Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa sacs in the shoulder joint. It can cause pain and swelling, typically resulting from overuse or trauma.
  • Tendinitis:
    • Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon in the shoulder, often caused by repetitive overhead motions. Common forms include biceps tendinitis and supraspinatus tendinitis.
  • Fractures:
    • Fractures of the collarbone (clavicle), upper arm bone (humerus), or shoulder blade (scapula) can occur due to falls, sports injuries, or accidents.
  • SLAP Tears (Superior Labrum from Anterior to Posterior):
    • SLAP tears are specific labral tears that occur at the top of the glenoid socket and are often associated with overhead sports or repetitive motions.
  • AC Joint Injuries:
    • Injuries to the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, which is located at the top of the shoulder, can result from direct impact or trauma to the shoulder.
  • Arthritis:
    • Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can affect the shoulder joint, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.

It's essential to seek medical evaluation and treatment for shoulder injuries, as early intervention can help prevent further damage and improve outcomes. Treatment options may include rest, physical therapy, medications, injections, and in some cases, surgery. The specific treatment approach depends on the type and severity of the injury.



What are the most common causes of shoulder injuries?

  • Trauma or Accidents: Sudden traumatic events, such as falls, car accidents, sports-related impacts, and direct blows to the shoulder, can result in fractures, dislocations, and soft tissue injuries in the shoulder region.
  • Overuse and Repetitive Strain: Many shoulder injuries are the result of overuse or repetitive strain, especially in occupations or activities that involve frequent overhead motions, lifting, or carrying heavy objects. This can lead to conditions like rotator cuff tears, tendinitis, and impingement syndrome. 
  • Age and Degeneration: As people age, the shoulder joint can undergo natural wear and tear (degeneration), leading to conditions like osteoarthritis. Age-related changes can also make the shoulder more susceptible to injuries.
  • Sports and Athletic Activities: Sports that involve throwing, overhead movements (e.g., swimming, baseball, tennis), and contact sports carry a higher risk of shoulder injuries due to the demands placed on the shoulder joint.
  • Incorrect Technique: Using poor form or technique during physical activities or weightlifting can increase the risk of shoulder injuries. This is common in weightlifters, bodybuilders, and athletes who do not receive proper coaching.
  • Improper Warm-up and Conditioning: Failing to warm up adequately before physical activity or sports can increase the risk of muscle and tendon injuries in the shoulder and other parts of the body.
  • Muscle Imbalances: Weak or imbalanced muscles around the shoulder joint can lead to instability and an increased risk of injury. Proper strength training and rehabilitation can help address these issues.
  • Genetic Factors and Underlying Medical Conditions: Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to certain shoulder conditions or injuries. Certain medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, can increase the susceptibility to shoulder problems.

It's important to note that many shoulder injuries are preventable with proper conditioning, technique, and safety precautions. If you engage in activities that place stress on your shoulders or experience persistent shoulder pain you can schedule an appointment with our team at Garden State Pain and Orthopedics. Our expert physicians will help guide you through the treatment options and get your life back on track. To learn more about our services click here or select “Book Now” to schedule an appointment. 


Meet Orthopedic Specialist Dr. Deepan Patel

Deepan Patel, MD, offers the latest cutting-edge techniques in arthroscopic and reconstructive surgery of the shoulder, elbow, hip, and knee at Garden State Pain & Orthopedics. Dr. Patel specializes in cartilage restoration techniques and advanced shoulder reconstructive surgery. He also offers innovative treatment options for common sports-related injuries, including ACL tears, meniscus tears, and labral tears.

Dr. Patel serves patients at convenient locations in Edison, Clifton, West Orange, and Jersey City, New Jersey.  Dr. Patel is fellow-trained in minimally invasive procedures, including robot-assisted partial knee replacements, hip arthroscopy, and shoulder resurfacing arthroplasty. While his experience in these surgeries is extensive, Dr. Patel doesn’t rush to surgery without first looking for noninvasive treatments that can address a patient’s mobility and pain. 

Born and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Dr. Patel graduated magna cum laude with a medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He was also elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. For his orthopedic surgical residency, Dr. Patel worked at the prestigious NYU Langone Medical Center Hospital in New York. 

He went on to fellowship training at the renowned Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, where he served as the assistant team physician for a number of Los Angeles professional sports teams, including the Lakers, Dodgers, Kings, Sparks, Anaheim Ducks, and teams from Loyola Marymount University. 

Dr. Patel has authored and co-authored over 15 articles for orthopedic journals and textbooks. He’s also presented his work on sports injuries at national meetings. Dr. Patel is especially passionate about treating ACL injuries, and the latest advancements in cartilage restoration techniques. He remains dedicated to learning the newest procedures and cutting-edge technologies, including robot-assisted surgeries, that weren’t available just a decade ago. Offering a relaxed, patient-centered environment at both his New Jersey surgical locations, Dr. Patel and his medical team provides the personalized care and attention that every patient deserves.