Wellness Wednesday: The Most Mobile Joint in the Body


Loudoun County, Va. — The shoulder is probably the most unstable joint in the entire body. The shoulder complex is the only joint in the human body that can perform true ‘circumduction,’ which is a combination of flexion, extension, adduction and abduction. The shoulder is a true ball and socket joint. The ball refers to the humeral head and the socket to the glenoid fossa.

The shoulder complex is held together by ligaments, tendons and muscles. The shoulders’ stability comes from the ligaments and tendons around it and the range of motions comes from the surrounding muscles. The interesting thing about the shoulder is that the scapula works in tandem with the shoulder joint itself.

The bones in the shoulder joint include:

  • Clavicle
  • Scapula
  • Humerus

The muscles in the shoulder joint include:

  • Deltoids
  • Trapezius
  • Biceps
  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus
  • Teres Minor
  • Subscapularis

Once you have a shoulder injury, you will notice a change in the ability to do many activities because the shoulder is such a key part of moving your arm to the places it needs to to take care daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, combing your hair or putting on a jacket.

Shoulder injuries are often ignored for longer periods of time because we assume the pain or issue will just resolve itself or that we can start moving differently to compensate for that pain or lack of mobility. It’s a major issue to ignore a shoulder problem because it becomes progressively harder to regain that lost strength and range of motion the longer you wait to address it.

Two of the most common shoulder problems include shoulder impingement and a tear or irritation to the rotator cuff. Shoulder impingement occurs when one of the key muscles in the rotator cuff gets pinched in the archway as it attaches to the shoulder. This causes pain, especially when you raise and lower your arm. A rotator cuff problem occurs when any of these four muscles that work together to perform internal or external rotation gets irritated. One of  biggest indicators of a rotator cuff problem is shoulder pain that wakes you up during the night.

Shoulder pain and dysfunction need immediate attention and an evaluation by a trained healthcare profession. Physical therapists are able to evaluate and begin treatment to restore any lost mobility and strengthen surrounding tissues. This is crucial as so much of your shoulder mobility and stability comes from the surrounding musculature.

NOTE FROM OUR SPONSOR: Don’t let shoulder pain prevent you from doing what you love. Call our office TODAY at 703-450-4300.


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Loudoun Sports Therapy Center is a premier physical therapy clinic. We offer outpatient orthopedic and sports physical therapy as well as specialty programs.

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