Orthopedic shoulder treatment in Colorado

At The Medical Center of Aurora (TMCA), our orthopedic care team is dedicated to treating shoulder pain with a wide range of treatments. We will suggest non-invasive methods of treatment before suggesting surgery. However, if your orthopedic specialist recommends a shoulder replacement surgery, you can be confident you will receive compassionate care and support throughout your journey to recovery.

To make an appointment with an orthopedic shoulder specialist, please call (303) 873-0630.

Shoulders are the most commonly injured joints in the body. However, because shoulders don’t affect mobility, people tend to put off having shoulder injuries treated by an orthopedic specialist. The earlier a shoulder injury is addressed, the easier it is to treat it with therapy and anti-inflammatory medications.

Continuing to manage shoulder pain for a long time without addressing the cause of the problem can lead to greater long-term complications.

Orthopedic shoulder conditions we treat

  • Arthritis of the shoulder
  • Clavicle fracture (broken collarbone)
  • Dislocated shoulder
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Labral tear
  • Rotator cuff injury
  • Shoulder instability (chronic or acute)
  • Shoulder replacement surgery
  • Shoulder sprain

Arthritis of the shoulder

Arthritis of the shoulder is joint inflammation of the shoulder and can cause discomfort, pain and decreased range of motion in the shoulder. Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease.

Clavicle fracture (broken collarbone)

A clavicle fracture is a break in the clavicle bone (also called the collarbone). It connects the sternum (breastplate) to the shoulder. Symptoms of a clavicle fracture include severe pain, sagging shoulder, severe bruising, a lump or visible deformity over the fracture site or an inability to lift the arm because of pain.

Most clavicle fractures can be treated either with a figure eight strap, which is wrapped around the body and shoulders, or with the arm in a sling. These devices help hold the shoulder in place while the clavicle heals. An orthopedic surgeon may insert pins or a plate and screws to hold the broken collarbone in place while it heals. It may take up to 10 weeks for the broken clavicle bone to heal, followed by specific exercises prescribed by a physical therapist to strengthen the shoulder and increase range of motion.

Dislocated shoulder

If you or a loved one has a dislocated shoulder, seek medical care right away. Do not try to put the shoulder bones back into place. Immobilize the shoulder as best as possible, take over-the-counter pain medications to decrease pain and swelling while in the process of seeking medical attention. Symptoms of a dislocated shoulder include intense pain in the shoulder, tenderness when the shoulder is touched, swelling, bruising, a deformed shoulder or an inability to move or lift the shoulder.

A shoulder dislocation occurs when the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) pops out of the shallow shoulder socket. This can happen when a strong force pulls the shoulder upward or outward, or from an extreme external rotation of the humerus. In a partial dislocation, the head of the humerus slips out of the socket momentarily and then snaps back into place. In a full shoulder dislocation, the head of the humerus comes completely out of the socket and does not pop back into place on its own.

Shoulder dislocation often happens in sports where the athlete may fall on the shoulder or receive impact to the shoulder, such as volleyball, skiing, football, soccer, hockey and rock climbing.

Treatment of a shoulder dislocation includes a physician moving the shoulder back into the joint socket by applying traction to your arm. After the procedure, wearing a sling or shoulder immobilizer will be necessary to keep the shoulder from moving. The shoulder is generally immobilized for about four weeks and full recovery takes several months. Shoulder surgery is rarely needed for a first shoulder dislocation. It is often needed for a shoulder that dislocates repeatedly.

Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a tightening of the tissue around the shoulder joint. It results in a loss of movement and pain at the shoulder joint. This condition may get worse over time. After a period of time, the shoulder may also improve spontaneously. This improvement is called thawing. The freezing to thawing process can take one to three years.

Treatment for frozen shoulder focuses on relieving pain and restoring function and range of motion to the shoulder. Nonsurgical treatment options include pain relief with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroid injections, muscle relaxants, heat, ice and physical therapy.

It’s not understood what causes frozen shoulder, however women, patients with diabetes, heart disease and thyroid disease, as well as patients recovering from stroke or mastectomy surgery, are at greater risk.

Labral tear

A shoulder labral tear is tear of the labrum. The labrum is the tissue that helps hold the end of the arm bone, known as the humerus, in place. Typically those who have a shoulder labral tear have an additional injury, such as a tear in the rotator cuff, making the labral tear often hard to diagnose. A labral tear happens when there is a fall on an outstretched arm or shoulder. A Labral tear can also happen if there is a repetitive overhead motion injury, such as throwing a baseball.

Symptoms of a labral tear include pain when you move your arm over your head or throw through a ball, weakness or instability in the shoulder, generalized aching pain in the shoulder, popping or catching in the shoulder.

Labral tears are treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), rest, ice and physical therapy. If there is no improvement after several weeks of nonsurgical treatment, minimally invasive shoulder surgery is considered. Surgery to repair a labral tear is called shoulder arthroscopy.

Rotator cuff injury

Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury can include recurrent or constant pain, shoulder muscle weakness (especially when lifting the arm), and limited range of motion in the shoulder joint. With a rotator cuff injury, sleep will be disturbed, especially when lying on the affected shoulder and combing the hair and reaching behind the back will be painful and difficult.

Individuals at risk for rotator cuff injuries often perform overhead motions in jobs or sports. These include painters, carpenters and baseball, basketball and tennis players.

Surgery is typically not required to heal a rotator cuff injury. Anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections and physical therapy can provide the treatment necessary to heal a rotator cuff injury. If these approaches are unsuccessful, minimally invasive surgical options include acromioplasty and arthroscopy. Depending on the extent of your injury, full recovery can take anywhere from two to six months.

Shoulder instability (chronic or acute)

Once you have dislocated your shoulder one time, it is often common to dislocate it again. Additionally, if you have injured your shoulder, the shoulder is prone to additional injuries. The weakness, pain and numbness, which accompany repetitive injuries, is known as shoulder instability.

Nonsurgical treatments for shoulder instability can include rest, physical therapy, ice, anti-inflammatory drugs and pain-relieving medications.

Minimally invasive surgical procedures, such as arthroscopy, may be used to determine the cause of and to treat shoulder instability.

Shoulder sprain

A shoulder sprain is stretching or tearing of the ligaments that stabilize the shoulder. Symptoms of a shoulder sprain include feeling a tear or pop in the shoulder joint followed by pain, swelling and bruising. The shoulder joint will be red in the sprain area, heat/warmth will radiate from the shoulder and the shoulder will be stiff.

Shoulder sprains may be caused by falling on an outstretched arm, forced twisting of the arm, a blow to the shoulder or overuse or repetitive movement of the shoulder joint.

As with most sprains, a shoulder sprain can be healed without surgery. Rest, ice, stabilization and pain relief medications should help with the recovery process. Physical therapy may be required to support the healing process. If the pain intensifies or does not decrease after several weeks, contact an orthopedic specialist.

Shoulder replacement surgery

Shoulder replacement is a serious surgery. Most candidates for shoulder replacement surgery have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms which indicate the need for a shoulder replacement include:

  • Moderate pain, which may increase to severe pain with activity
  • Pain that affects the ability to sleep
  • Inability to perform daily functions
  • Insufficient pain relief from nonsurgical treatment options, including physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs and steroid injections.

Shoulder replacement surgery replaces a worn, shoulder joint with a new, functional joint made from metal and plastic. The surgery relieves the debilitating shoulder joint pain that interferes with daily life.

Our orthopedic shoulder specialists

Our orthopedic shoulder team takes great care of shoulder injuries. A collaborative medical team, including orthopedic surgeons, certified nurses, radiologists and physical therapists, work together to create a plan specifically tailored to the patient’s needs.

Our high-quality care and low infection rates are only a few reasons why our patients heal faster and get back to living their lives as quickly as possible.

For the comfort of our patients, our orthopedic shoulder surgeons work in newly renovated operating rooms with sophisticated imaging equipment and the latest in laser technology to achieve the best possible surgical outcomes.