Orthopedics: Conditions

Shoulder Conditions

When the shoulder is injured, it disrupts everything in our life. The orthopedic surgeons and doctors at Emory specialize in treating all shoulder injuries. Our physicians are nationally recognized leaders in their surgical field, helping to initiate and design new shoulder surgery techniques.

Many shoulder injuries happen while engaged in favorite sports activities – football, baseball, tennis, soccer, and more. Other injuries to the shoulder occur after years of wear and tear. The shoulder offers more motion than any other joint in the body, which gives it tremendous versatility. We throw with our shoulder, we swim, we hit tennis balls, we lift groceries, we drive, and we even put on our shirts all while using our shoulders.

Some of the shoulder conditions our orthopedic doctors treat include:

AC Joint Shoulder Separation

The shoulder is comprised of three bones: 1) the humerus (arm), 2) the scapula (shoulder blade) and, 3) the clavicle (collarbone). These bones form two joints: the shoulder joint (glenohumeral) and the AC (acromialclavicular) joint. An AC joint shoulder separation occurs when the clavicle becomes dislocated from the roof of the shoulder (acromion).


Arthritis is condition that involves the breakdown of the protective cartilage around the joints, which results in pain, stiffness and inflammation.

Broken Collarbone/Clavicle Fracture

The collarbone (clavicle) is located between the ribcage (sternum) and the shoulder blade (scapula), and it connects the arm to the body. The clavicle is a long bone and most breaks occur in the middle of it.


Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that are located in joints throughout the body, including the shoulder. They act as cushions between bones and the overlying soft tissues, and help reduce friction between the gliding muscles and the bone.

Frozen Shoulder/Adhesive Capsulitis

Frozen shoulder, also called adhesive capsulitis, causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder. Over time, the shoulder becomes very hard to move. Frozen shoulder occurs in about 2% of the general population.


When you raise your arm to shoulder height, the space between the acromion and rotator cuff narrows. The acromion can rub against (or "impinge" on) the tendon and the bursa, causing irritation and pain.

Rotator Cuff Tear

Patients with a rotator cuff tear usually have a dull ache in their upper lateral arm and shoulder. Over-the-head shoulder activity is difficult, so sports like tennis, baseball or swimming cause discomfort.


Tendonitis is a condition in which the tendon, or tissue that attaches muscle to bone, is inflamed, irritated and/or swollen. Tendonitis can occur as the result of tendon overuse, injury, or because of age.