shoudler anatomy.jpg

1. This shows the anatomy of the shoulder joint.


2. This an X-Ray of a shoulder with subacromial impingement with supraspinatus rupture.


3. This is an X-Ray showing acromioclavicular (AC) separation. 

General Issues

  • Impingement

  • Separation

  • Fracture

  • Cartilage Tear

  • Bursitis

  • Tendonitis

  • Bone Spurs


Impingement occurs when there is excessive friction between tissues. In the shoulder, it often happens when the space between the shoulder blade and a group of tendons called the rotator cuff increases, leading to excessive rubbing. Shoulder impingement is often a result of overuse, which can occur in overhead sports like volleyball and tennis or occupations like construction. If you have pain, weakness, and stiffness at the shoulder joint, you may be experiencing this condition.


An Acromioclavicular (AC) joint injury is a traumatic injury to the shoulder that occurs when the ligaments connecting the shoulder blade (clavicle) and collarbone (acromion) are injured. A strong force from impact can tear these ligaments, causing the shoulder blade and collarbone to separate. AC separation commonly occurs in athletes and males, and presents as pain, weakness, bruising and swelling, limited range of motion, and a bump at the top of the shoulder. Recovery for AC separation depends largely on the classification of injury, and if the ligaments of the AC joint are intact. Overall, the AC joint is a complex joint that can be injured in many different ways and severities, and treatments evolving to account for this.


Fractures of the shoulder joint involves breaking one of the three bones of the shoulder: the clavicle, humerus, or scapula. The symptoms of a shoulder fracture include pain while moving the arm, swelling, bruising, limited range of motion, and “grinding” feeling when moving. A bump on the shoulder is characteristic of a fractured clavicle. Most fractures can be treated non surgically with rest and immobilization, while surgery is needed for more serious injuries.

Cartilage Tear

The articular cartilage is a type of connective tissue that facilitates movement and makes it easier for bones to slide past each other at the joint. It can be injured from acute trauma, wear and tear, or preexisting conditions like osteochondritis. Common symptoms of this condition include  pain lifting the arm over the head, weakness, decreased range of motion, night pain, and a “clicking” or “grinding” sensation at the shoulder joint.

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Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa, which are fluid filled sacs that reduce friction and cushion the tissues within a joint. The bursa of the shoulder are called the subacromial bursa, and they cushion the area between the rotator cuff and the acromion (shoulder blade). Individuals that do a lot of repetitive overhead motion are at risk for bursitis, as well as older individuals. Illnesses like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, and thyroid diseases are also associated with bursitis. Common symptoms of this condition include pain with movement, stiffness, and swelling of the shoulder joint, you may have this condition. 


Shoulder tendonitis is a condition where the tendons of the shoulder are inflamed, causing pain,  stiffness, and swelling. Anything that causes the tendons of the shoulder to be pinched by surrounding structures can lead to this condition, from years of overhead activity to acute injuries. The symptoms of this shoulder tendonitis are quite similar to bursitis, another inflammatory condition of the shoulder joint. You may also experience a limited range of motion, tenderness, and night pains with this condition.

Bone Spurs

Osteophytes, also called bone spurs, are smooth, bony projections from bone that form near joints. They often develop over time with the onset of joint damage and arthritis, and result in pain and other symptoms when they impinge on other tissues of the body.

Sources: See individual pages for each condition

Attribution for Images

1. OpenStax College. “Shoulder Joint”. Wikimedia Commons, 19 May 2013,

2. RSatUSZ. “Subacromial Impingement with Supraspinatus Rupture”. Wikimedia Commons, 1 February 2017,

3. Cox, Jay F. “AC Separation XRAY (enhanced)”. Wikimedia Commons, 11 November 2006,

4. Lengerke. “Phs-calc”. Wikimedia Commons, 29 June 2010,

5. Biser Todorov. “Bulgaria-serbia volley 2012”. Wikimedia Commons, 30 July 2011,

6. Nucleus Communications “Rotator cuff tear”. Wikimedia Commons, 3 December 2018,

7. Clare_and_ben. “Ryne Sandberg 1996”. Wikimedia Commons, 4 July 1996,

shoulder bursitis.jpg

4. This is an X-Ray showing bursitis of the shoulder joint


5. Overhead athletes like volleyball players are at risk for shoulder injuries, especially overuse injuries.


6. This is a tear of the supraspinatus muscle, which is the most common type of rotator cuff tear. Rotator cuff tears are caused by injury or degeneration, and conditions like impingement, tendonitis, and bursitis can contribute to them.

640px-Ryne_Sandberg_1996 baseball.jpg

7. Sports with repetitive overhead motion like baseball can lead to overuse injuries.