Shoulder Joint Examination

The shoulder joint is frequently used and it has a high degree of mobility which makes it susceptible to injury. Our Beverly Hills medical office performs shoulder joint examination to identify the cause of shoulder pain or limited joint movement. Booking an appointment to consult a doctor about shoulder injury is important to diagnose the exact type of shoulder injury you’re suffering from.

Anatomy of the shoulder joint

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint in the upper limb. Although it’s a single joint, it is made up of more than two bones. The main joint is called glenohumeral joint which connects the humerus (upper arm) bone to the scapula (shoulder blade). Another part of the shoulder is the acromioclavicular joint between the acromion (tip) of the scapula and the clavicle (collar bone).
In addition to the bony components, the shoulder joint also contains ligaments (fibrous bands that connect two bones) and tendons (fibrous bands that connect muscle to bone). Damage to these ligaments or tendons can cause pain in the shoulder joint.

Types of shoulder injury

There are different types of shoulder injuries that vary in terms of their severity. By visiting our professional team of Los Angeles doctors, you can get a complete shoulder joint examination from an experienced physician who can help you understand the type of shoulder injury you have and how you can manage it.

Shoulder Sprains

A shoulder sprain is when one or more of the ligaments in your shoulder joint is overstretched or completely torn. It commonly affects the acromioclavicular joint. Sprains are usually caused by direct trauma or if a person falls on their arm when it’s stretched. Not all sprains are the same. Shoulder sprains are graded based on their severity. Your physician will examine your shoulder and explain if your shoulder sprain is a grade 1, 2, or 3.

For shoulder sprains, patients should rest or immobilize the joint completely then sign up for physiotherapy to improve its condition. If the sprain is severe, surgery might be necessary.


Tendinitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the tendons. If you’ve been exerting yourself and overusing your shoulder joint more than usual, whether it’s in a work environment or during sport activities, your tendons will eventually get inflamed due to this excessive wear and tear.

Tendinitis is one of the less severe shoulder joint injuries which only requires rest and anti-inflammatory drug treatment.

Shoulder Impingement

One of the common types of shoulder injury, impingement syndrome is when inflamed tendons or bursa (pads of fat that cushion the bones inside the joint) are compressed against the tip of the shoulder blade. A classic sign of shoulder impingement syndrome is pain felt during activities that require you to raise your arm above your head.

Treatment modalities include conservative methods like rest and anti-inflammatory medications. Physical therapy is the recommended option for this type of shoulder injury. If pain persists, steroid injections can be administered to reduce inflammation. Surgery is reserved for cases that involve an unstable shoulder joint with bony spurs or torn tendons.

Shoulder Dislocation

Dislocation of the shoulder joint happens when the head of the humerus slips out of its socket. Dislocation occurs as a result of direct trauma during accidents or overuse which lead to a progressive decline in joint stability. To improve shoulder joint stability, the ligaments within the joint need to be strengthened. Shoulder dislocations are easily diagnosed during physical examination and using x-rays.

Various treatment options can be used to treat a dislocated shoulder. A closed reduction where your physician maneuvers the bones from the outside to return them to their original location without using surgery is the first line treatment. However, if frequent dislocations occur, surgery is used to strengthen the shoulder ligaments, improving joint stability and preventing future dislocations.


A fracture of any of the bones that compose the shoulder joint is a serious type of shoulder injury. It causes extreme pain and significantly limits shoulder movement.
The only treatment method for shoulder fractures is a type of orthopedic surgery called shoulder joint replacement: this is where the damaged bone is replaced with prosthetic metal or plastic pieces. This surgical method is usually recommended for severe joint disease like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteonecrosis.

Diagnosis of shoulder injury

Your physician will ask you about your complaints. You need to clarify how your shoulder pain started, where you feel it, and if it gets better or worse in certain positions. Afterwards, your physician will perform a shoulder joint examination to get a better idea about your injury.

Following your physical examination, your physician will request additional imaging tests like x-rays or CT scans. He or she may also refer you to the ultrasound unit in our medical office. A musculoskeletalultrasound of your shoulder joint can help determine the exact location of your injury.

The ultimate diagnostic method for joint injuries is arthroscopic examination. During arthroscopy, a small incision is made and an arthroscope – aprobe with a camera –is inserted in your shoulder joint to examine it from the inside. This is a reliable method that an orthopedic surgeon uses to reach an accurate diagnosis if previous tests are inconclusive. Arthroscopy can also be a therapeutic surgical method to treat severe shoulder injuries like fractures or impingement syndrome.

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