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South Orange County Orthopaedics

Orthopaedic Surgeons located in Orange County, Mission Viejo, CA

Your shoulder is a collection joints, bones, muscles, and tendons that work together to allow your arms the mobility needed for lifting a bag of groceries, throwing a curveball, or hugging a loved one. Because your shoulders are constantly in use, they are subject to numerous injuries. At South Orange County Orthopaedics, Inc, you have access to Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick and their team of highly trained surgeons who’ll help relieve your shoulder pain. Call their Mission Viejo, California office, or use the online scheduling tool to book a consultation.

Shoulder Q & A

What are some common shoulder problems?

Most shoulder issues can be placed into one of four categories.


Many people begin to experience stiffness, swelling and pain in their shoulder as they move through middle age. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints, and the type of arthritis that commonly affects the shoulder is osteoarthritis, otherwise known as “wear and tear” arthritis.


Your shoulder contains several bones, and when one of those bones is broken, serious pain and swelling can occur. A fall, an auto accident, or even playing sports can lead to a fracture of your clavicle, humerus, or scapula.


Your shoulder is an incredibly strong part of your body, but the joint can become misaligned due to an injury, or through simple overuse. Instability occurs when the upper bone in your arm is dislodged from your shoulder socket. If the muscles, tendons, or ligaments in your shoulder become weakened or damaged, dislocations can occur again and again.

Tendon inflammation or tears

Tendons are made of tough connective tissue and serve to connect muscles to bones. Over time, your tendons wear down. Conditions such as arthritis, sudden injury, and repetitive stress can also weaken your tendons.

How are shoulder problems diagnosed?

When you come in for treatment for shoulder pain or stiffness, your doctor will ask about your health history and the ways that you use your shoulders. There are a number of diagnostic tests that your doctor can use to understand what may be happening in your shoulder.

These diagnostic tools include:

  • X-rays
  • Computed tomography scan (CT scan)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Ultrasound
  • Arthroscopy: Small incision to see into the joint
  • Arthrogram: X-rays using a contrast material

Once your doctor is able to identify the source of your shoulder pain, a customized treatment plan is prepared.

What is shoulder arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that makes use of a small device that contains a lens, light and video camera. This device is known as an arthroscope, and it allows your surgeon to see the structures within your shoulder.

At the same time, slim surgical instruments can be inserted through another portal to repair damaged structures or remove damaged tissue.

These conditions can be diagnosed and treated using shoulder arthroscopy:

  • Arthritis
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Subacromial decompression
  • Torn rotator cuff
  • Instability
  • Infection

If you suffer from painful or stiff shoulders, schedule a consultation online, or by calling, with South Orange County Orthopaedics, Inc, to begin on your treatment path.