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As your Grand Rapids Chiropractor I believe that your knowledge of your musculoskeletal system can actually help to prevent injury. So, your could say that I am offering this information about the shoulder as “preventative medicine.” The shoulder joint has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the musculoskeletal system. It is surrounded by ligaments and a group of muscles (and their tendon attachments) referred to as the rotator cuff. These muscles and tendons join your upper arm bone with your shoulder blade and, in addition, help to lock the ball of your upper arm solidly in its shoulder socket. It is this elegant arrangement that permits the significant range of motion of your shoulder joint. And, unfortunately, it is one of the most commonly dislocated joints in the body. Shoulder dislocations can happen to young and old alike. In fact, an article published in the March 2010 issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS) suggests that the majority of shoulder dislocations occur during sports activities and young males are at a higher risk. No surprise there. But, what is surprising, however, is that the study also reveals a high rate of shoulder dislocation in elderly women.

The shoulder joint can dislocate forward, backward or downward. The most common shoulder dislocation happens when the shoulder slips forward (anterior instability). The arm bone is moved forward and down and out of its joint. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, numbness, weakness, and bruising. A dislocation can tear ligaments or tendons in the shoulder or even damage nearby nerves. To treat the dislocation, a doctor will manipulate the arm bone (the humerus) and replace it in the shoulder socket. This stops the severe pain and allows for the injured tissues to heal.

Remember, whether you are young or an aging baby boomer, it’s important to keep your musculoskeletal system moving smoothly. Always do limbering exercises before playing a sport or working in the garden. And, never play or work into pain. If you experience shoulder pain, see a healthcare professional.