Shoulder and Elbow Pain and Injury

Nationally Recognized Specialists for Shoulder and Elbow Treatment

Shoulder and elbow pain and injury can be caused by a number of things, including sports injuries, falls or work injuries. The most common shoulder problems are caused by injuries or wear in the tendons, bones or muscles. You may experience shoulder pain when lifting your arm above your head or moving it forward or behind your back. The most common cause of elbow pain is tendinitis—an inflammation and injury to the tendons—caused by overuse. 

Loyola Medicine is a regional leader in shoulder and elbow surgery, with specialists who are internationally trained and nationally recognized in the treatment of conditions of the shoulder and elbow, including:  

  • Adhesive capsulitis or “frozen shoulder”
  • Arthritis and osteoarthritis
  • Athletic injuries
  • Bankart lesions
  • Biceps tendon tears at the elbow or shoulder
  • Bursitis or tendinitis
  • Chronic elbow and shoulder instability
  • Common elbow and shoulder injuries and pain
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Dislocated shoulder or elbow
  • Elbow (olecranon) bursitis
  • Erb's palsy (brachial plexus birth palsy)
  • Flexor tendinitis
  • Fractures of the clavicle, distal humerus, elbow, forearm, radial head, scapula and shoulder blade
  • Glenoid labrum tear
  • Labral tears
  • Lateral epicondylitis or “tennis elbow” 
  • Medial epicondylitis or “golfer’s elbow”
  • Radial head subluxation or “nursemaid’s elbow”
  • Recurrent and chronic elbow instability
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Shoulder impingement/rotator cuff tendinitis or bursitis
  • Shoulder joint tear
  • Shoulder separation
  • Shoulder trauma and fractures
  • SLAP tears
  • Tendinitis of the long head of the biceps
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Throwing injuries
  • Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injury
  • Ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow (cubital tunnel syndrome)
  • Valgus extension overload (VEO)

Our integrated, specialized team uses arthroscopy, minimally invasive surgical techniques, open procedures and total shoulder replacement surgery to provide the best possible treatment for your shoulder or elbow.

Why Choose Loyola for Treatment of Shoulder and Elbow Pain and Injury?

Loyola has an Illinois Level I Trauma Center and a team of fellowship-trained orthopaedic specialists experienced in treating bone and tendon injuries, including complex fractures. You will be seen by a doctor who specializes in the care of the elbow and shoulder. Loyola is recognized nationally and internationally for superior patient outcomes.

Loyola’s orthopaedic surgeons work closely with sports medicine specialists to prevent and treat a range of injuries. Loyola’s overhand athlete program uses 3D sensor technology to help assess and improve the motion mechanics of tennis, baseball and volleyball players. This program has been shown to help athletes prevent injuries of the shoulder and elbow.

How is Shoulder and Elbow Pain and Injury Diagnosed?

Sudden shoulder pain can sometimes be a sign of a heart attack. Call 911 if you have a sudden crushing pain in your shoulder, especially if your pain runs from your chest to your left jaw, arm or neck—or if it is accompanied by dizziness, sweating or shortness of breath.

If you experience a severe injury to your shoulder or elbow, go to the emergency room immediately. Consult a doctor or nurse if you have an obvious deformity or if either joint seems locked or immobilized.

Some minor symptoms often resolve themselves with ice, anti-inflammatory medicine and resting the joint. But if symptoms like pain, swelling or redness do not improve after a day or two, consult a doctor. 

To diagnose shoulder and elbow pain, your Loyola doctor will conduct a physical exam and talk to you about your symptoms, your history of illness and any past injuries or surgeries. Your Loyola doctor may use the following diagnostic tests to make an accurate diagnosis:

How is Shoulder and Elbow Pain and Injury Treated?

Loyola’s orthopaedic specialists will consider therapeutic, medical and surgical options for your shoulder or elbow problem. Your doctor’s goal is to eliminate your pain and get you back to your normal activities through the least invasive treatment possible. 

Loyola offers the following minimally invasive and non-invasive treatments:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Arthroplasty
  • Cortisone shots
  • Cubital tunnel release
  • Physical therapy and exercise programs
  • Ultrasound-guided injections for pain relief

If surgical treatment is required, your Loyola surgeon may recommend:

  • Bicep or tricep tendon repair
  • Clavicle fracture surgery
  • Elbow arthroscopy
  • Elbow ligament reconstruction
  • Elbow osteotomy or synovectomy
  • Elbow reconstruction (Tommy John surgery)
  • Elbow replacement surgery
  • Frozen shoulder release

Your Loyola healthcare team will carefully explain any recommended surgical procedure to you prior to surgery, including risks, recovery and physical therapy following surgery. Loyola’s skilled physical and occupational therapists specialize in shoulder and elbow therapy and will help you return to your normal activities as quickly as possible. Learn more about orthopaedic rehabilitation.