Our shoulders have a range of motion that no other part of the body has, and that flexibility allows us to perform myriad activities. As a result, the shoulders are more likely to suffer injuries.
Some of the common ones are dislocation, sprain, separation and fractures.
* Dislocation: When the arm is jerked backward or pulled sharply, the head of the humerus (the bone of the upper arm, or forelimb) may come out of the shoulder socket. A dislocated shoulder is painful and prevents movement of the shoulder. Numbness, swelling and bruising might also occur.
* Sprain and separation: Most often, these are caused by a fall on the shoulder. A sprain results when ligaments are torn. The sprain might be a small tear or it might be large enough that the acromion (the top of the shoulder) and the clavicle (collarbone) separate.
* Fractures: A broken clavicle happens when a fall on the shoulder is a heavy one. Children often suffer this injury--the result of falling out of that friendly looking tree in the backyard, for instance. A broken shoulder is usually a fracture of the neck of the humerus, often caused by a fall on an outstretched arm or elbow. There's also an ailment called frozen shoulder, when the shoulder joint is stiff and restricted in motion. Your doctor will examine you and determine how much shoulder motion you've lost. He or she may prescribe an exercise program.