When shoulder pain affects your quality of life and prevents you from doing what you love, let our multidisciplinary team of experts help you find the best treatment possible.

Shoulder injuries occur for young and elderly patients, as well as for people with active or sedentary lifestyles. From diagnosis to treatment, our shoulder specialists will provide personalized care using state-of-the-art technology and evidence-based research to return you to your quality of life.

Conditions We Treat

Clavicle Collarbone Injuries

Clavicle fractures are very common, at all ages, although they are most common in young patients. While traditionally clavicle fractures have been treated nonoperatively with a sling or brace, recent data indicates that a select group of patients may have better outcomes with surgical treatment.

Surgical treatments
Surgery involves placing a strong plate and screws on the bone. This may allow a more rapid return to function, lower the risk of not healing and improve shoulder function.

Failed Shoulder Replacement

While shoulder replacement is a very reliable option in treating a variety of shoulder problems, occasionally problems arise such as mechanical failure, soft tissue failure, fractures or ongoing pain.

These problems are complex and require a systematic approach to treatment. In many cases, this includes specialized testing such as CT scans, MRI scans, ultrasound imaging, blood tests and joint fluid samples. In some cases, treatment is straightforward; in most instances, further surgery will be required. In the event of an infection in the implantation area, more than one surgery may be required.

Shoulder Arthritis

In almost every case of arthritis of the shoulder, the shoulder has been injured months or years earlier, leading to an abnormal wearing down of the cartilage. Injuries include bony fracture, dislocation or heavy blow to the outer shoulder. Fortunately, arthritis of the shoulder progresses slowly.

Treatment focuses on reduction of inflammation, physical therapy, including stretching exercises to preserve motion and gentle strengthening exercises, and avoidance of certain activities to prevent further wear and arthritic flare-ups.

Surgical options include total shoulder arthroplasty, including anatomic shoulder arthroplasty and reverse total shoulder arthroplasty, and joint replacement surgery. Joint replacement surgery is removing a damaged joint and putting in a new one. Sometimes, the orthopedic surgeon will not remove the whole joint, but will only replace or fix the damaged parts.

Shoulder, Biceps and Labral Injuries

Upper extremity injuries can happen acutely, with traumatic shoulder injury, or slowly with repetitive use. Particularly in throwers and athletes who perform overhead motions, the superior labrum – the area of the labrum attached to the biceps tendon – is torn in the latter fashion.

The two main types of injuries to this area are
  • Superior labrum anterior-posterior (SLAP tear)
  • Biceps tendon tear/Biceps tendonitis

While many patients with biceps and superior labral injuries are able to manage their injury with physical therapy, some may have persistent pain or inability to perform activities. In these patients, consideration of an injection into the joint or surgery is recommended.

Both inflammation and irritation of the superior labrum and the biceps tendon can be treated with biceps tenodesis, Biceps tenodesis is the cutting of the biceps tendon in the shoulder and reattaching it in a location outside the shoulder. This surgery can be done as an outpatient, using minimally invasive techniques. A short period of immobilization in a sling is followed by physical therapy to regain range of motion and strength.

Shoulder Fractures

Many elderly patients can have shoulder fractures from ground-level falls. These fractures can generally be treated nonoperatively, with a short period of time in a splint, followed by gradual physical therapy and resumption of activities. In severely displaced fractures, surgical treatment may be indicated.

Young patients may experience fractures of the shoulder, scapula, acromion, clavicle and tuberosity as a result of high-energy trauma. These complex injuries require a multidisciplinary approach by shoulder specialists.

Surgical treatment of fractures is generally completed using a plate and screws, or by a shoulder replacement. Plates and screws can be used to put together the broken pieces of the shoulder. Range of motion is gradually gained while the structure heals. A sling is frequently used for up to six weeks. Strengthening begins three months after surgery.

In more severe fractures, shoulder replacements may be required. In some cases, this can be a partial shoulder replacement, or hemiarthroplasty, or a reverse total shoulder arthroplasty. Your specialist will choose which operation is best for you depending on a number of factors, including findings on an X-ray or CT scan, your age, your activity level, previous shoulder problems or surgery and timing from injury.

Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability is a very common problem resulting from either trauma/sudden injury or overuse. Trauma from sports activity, like a shoulder dislocation, can often lead to arthritis in the long term. In the short term, a shoulder dislocation can lead to a tear in the labrum or the rotator cuff, especially in older patients.

Shoulder instability results when the shoulder joint is out of socket.

Symptoms include:
  • pain that worsens when raising the arm
  • stiffness
  • lack of strength and mobility in the shoulder area
  • sensation that the shoulder is slipping out of place

In many cases, shoulder instability can be treated nonoperatively with physical therapy. In cases of recurrent instability, or instability that involves fractures or tears of the rotator cuff or of certain patients at very high risk of further dislocations, early surgery may be recommended.

Surgical options for shoulder instability include arthroscopic labral repair, Latarjet procedure and complex bone reconstructions.

Shoulder Rotator Cuff Tears

Problems with the rotator cuff are common, especially as we get older. They include tendinitis, bursitis and injuries such as tears. Rotator cuff tendons can become inflamed from frequent use or aging. Aging causes tendons to wear down, which can lead to a tear. Tendons can be injured from a fall on an outstretched hand. Sports or jobs with repeated overhead motion can also damage the rotator cuff.

While most tears occur slowly over several months or years, some tears can happen with an injury. Tears that occur after an injury, as indicated by severe shoulder pain, loss of motion or weakness of the shoulder, require urgent attention by a healthcare provider. Some tears are not painful, but others can be.

Treatment for a torn rotator cuff depends on age, health, how severe the injury is and how long you’ve had the torn rotator cuff. When rotator cuff tears do not respond to physical therapy or occasional injections, surgical treatment should be considered. The most common surgical procedure done for rotator cuff tear is arthroscopic surgery.

Throwing Shoulder Problems

Throwers can have unique and complex problems involving the shoulder and elbow. In addition to the problematic joint, it is critically important for physicians to treat the entire athlete – including hip, trunk, back and core muscle groups.

The Ohio State Sports Medicine team of athletic trainers, physical therapists, nonoperative sports medicine physicians and shoulder surgeons can evaluate and treat the range of shoulder and elbow injuries in throwing athletes.


Our diagnostic process includes a thorough history and physical exam, along with diagnostic imaging such as X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI provides a detailed, high-resolution image of your bones, joints and surrounding soft tissues, such as tendons, ligaments and muscles. It can show your doctor if you have any damage, deterioration or abnormalities.
Your doctor also may order additional testing, such as a blood test or nerve conduction study with electromyogram (EMG). An EMG uses tiny electrodes to send signals to your muscles and records the response. This test helps your doctor evaluate the health of your muscles and nerve cells.

Nonsurgical Treatments

When we’re considering treatment options for a shoulder or elbow injury, we first consider how much the pain impacts your quality of life. There are a variety of conservative treatment options that can be a suitable alternative for surgery in the short term or indefinitely.

Surgical Treatments

Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center recommends exhausting other treatment options before deciding on surgery. Treatment is personalized for each patient, and in some cases surgery can be avoided for patients with injuries like rotator cuff tears. But when there is great discomfort or you desire to get back to your sport and other methods haven’t produced the desired results, surgery can diminish pain and improve function.

Why Choose Ohio State

Surgical expertise: Our surgeons treat patients with all types of shoulder disorders. Revision shoulder instability procedures, especially dislocations due to bone loss, are a specific focus.

Ongoing research: Our surgeons have participated in the largest study to date on the nonoperative treatment of full-thickness rotator cuff tears, which has won two Neer Awards – the most prestigious international award recognition for shoulder research.

Highly educated: We offer fellowship-level physician care and physical therapy. That means our providers have completed up to two years of intense, specialized experiential training in the field, which translates to extensive proficiency in patient care.

High-level training: In addition to our prestigious orthopedic sports medicine fellowship, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is the first in the country to offer a credentialed Upper Extremity Athlete Fellowship Program. This is a 12-month program in partnership with the Cleveland Indians and their Triple-A affiliate, the Columbus Clippers.

Diagnostic Expertise: U.S.News & World Report ranks us among its best, naming our Orthopaedic program a high-performing specialty.

Our Doctors

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