Orthopaedic damage to the shoulder or elbow may happen spontaneously or gradually over a long time. The shoulder and elbow are highly susceptible to traumatic injuries, particularly among athletes. A fall on outstretched arms, heavy lifting, or overextension may result in a sudden tearing of connective tissues, while traumatic impacts and collisions may cause fractured bones or dislocations. Throwing athletes and patients with high-impact jobs that require lifting or repetitive arm motions, meanwhile, are susceptible to overuse injuries that cause gradual wear and tear.
Orthopaedic damage is not always associated with trauma, however. Many degenerative conditions affect this region of the body, including arthritis. For still other patients, shoulder and elbow symptoms may be caused by such issues as tumors, infection, and nerve-related problems.