Many of us don’t give our shoulders and elbows much thought until we develop pain that makes it hard to use them. If you spend lots of time on the tennis courts or your job includes lifting and hauling, you may be at risk for joint pain, stiffness, swelling, or weakness.
If your symptoms don’t go away with ice packs or ibuprofen — and they prevent you from performing daily activities — you may need to see an orthopedic specialist who specializes in shoulder or elbow care.
Elbow and Shoulder Problems We Treat
Our shoulder and elbow joints include bones and muscles that are held together (and protected) by different types of tissue. These tissues include tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. If something happens to any part of the joint, you may have pain and loss of function.
Tower Health orthopedic specialists treat medical conditions and injuries that affect our shoulders and elbows. These include:
- Bursitis. We offer therapies to treat inflammation of the bursae (small, fluid-filled sacs that help cushion your joints). Bursitis commonly affects the shoulders and elbows.
- Fractures and dislocations. Our orthopedic doctors and surgeons treat shoulders and elbows that are fractured (broken) or dislocated (one of the bones that makes up the joint pops out of position).
- Ligament problems. We treat problems associated with stretched or torn ligaments, including sprains and ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears.
- Medical conditions. We’ll help you manage medical conditions that can affect the elbow and shoulder joints. These include arthritis and frozen shoulder.
- Overuse injuries. Our specialists diagnose and treat injuries caused by constant repetitive motion. These include tennis elbow, swimmer’s shoulder, and rotator cuff injuries.
- Tendon problems. We offer complete care for conditions caused by tendon inflammation or tears. These include tendonitis, biceps tendon rupture, and shoulder impingement (tendons become trapped between two bones in the shoulder).
A Tailored, Team Approach
Our orthopedic physicians and surgeons work closely with other Tower Health specialists to make sure you receive a precise diagnosis and personalized treatment.
We’ll start by uncovering the source of your shoulder or elbow pain. Depending on the type and severity of your symptoms, you may need a physical exam and imaging tests. You may also need lab tests to confirm or rule out medical conditions like arthritis.
Once we pinpoint the cause of your pain, you may see providers who specialize in orthopedic rehabilitation, physiatry, or rheumatology. Together we will help you get your shoulder or elbow back in shape, so you can get back to your old self.
Nonsurgical Elbow and Shoulder Treatments
Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). This simple technique can help reduce pain, muscle spasms, and swelling.
- Orthopedic rehabilitation. Physical therapists teach exercises to strengthen muscles or improve flexibility and range of motion. They may also offer therapies such as muscle massage, heat packs, or cold compresses.
- Medical devices. Equipment such as slings and splints help provide stability after an injury.
- Medicine. Prescription and over-the-counter medicines help control pain or reduce swelling.
- Injected therapies. Injections of certain medicines can help reduce pain and inflammation. These include cortisone injections (steroid shots) and trigger point injections.
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. A special machine spins a small amount of your blood to separate platelets (tiny cells that promote clotting and healing) from red blood cells. The platelet-rich solution is injected back into the part of your body affected by tendonitis.
Elbow and Shoulder Surgery
In some cases, orthopedic surgery offers the best chance to restore joint function or provide long-term relief. You may need shoulder or elbow surgery if you’ve suffered a traumatic injury, or if conservative therapies don’t ease your ongoing symptoms.
Tower Health offers safe, sophisticated surgical treatments for complex elbow and shoulder conditions — including minimally invasive options that can reduce surgical pain, complications, and recovery time.
Our areas of expertise include:
- Arthroscopy. Removes loose pieces of bone or cartilage from the shoulder or elbow joint. During this minimally invasive procedure, your surgeon can also remove inflammatory tissue, smooth uneven surfaces, and remove bone spurs.
- Cartilage repair and regeneration. Replaces missing or damaged cartilage with a piece of healthy bone and cartilage from a tissue donor, or from your own body. Procedures include osteochondral allograft and autograft transplantations.
- Joint replacement. Removes all (or part of) a damaged shoulder or elbow joint and replaces it with metal or plastic parts.
- Ligament surgery. Repairs partially or fully torn ligaments. Procedures include UCL reconstruction (also known as Tommy John surgery).
- Rotator cuff surgery. Repairs injuries to the rotator cuff (a group of tendons and muscles that hold the upper arm inside the shoulder joint). Procedures include reattaching the tendons to the arm bone, tendon transfer, and shoulder replacement.
- Tendon surgery. Sews together partially or fully torn tendons.