What most people call the shoulder is really several joints that combine with tendons and muscles to allow a wide range of motion in the arm from scratching your back to throwing the perfect pitch. Shoulders are the most commonly dislocated joint. The shoulder is not put together as snugly as our body’s other ball and socket joints. Shoulder sockets are shallower, flatter, and the balls (the upper end of the top arm bones) have to be held in position by a lot of soft tissue. Shoulders are susceptible to many types of injury. Problems more often occur in the ligaments and tendons of the shoulder rather than in the bones. Doctors may diagnose the precise location of shoulder pain by performing an examination, or through x-rays or an MRI. Types of Shoulder Injuries: Dislocation: When the ball-shape top of the upper arm (humerus) becomes pulled out of its socket (glenoid) the surrounding soft tissue is stretched and often torn, causing a lot of swelling and pain in the shoulder. As a result, the supporting ligaments in the front of the shoulder may become damaged. Dislocation of the shoulder can cause excruciating pain. A doctor can usually maneuver the arm back into place, although sometimes shoulder surgery is indicated. A dislocated shoulder injury is frequently the result of a slip and fall accident. The nature of the injury makes it more vulnerable to future dislocation. When this occurs in an older adult, the damage may be more severe, due to soft tissue becoming weaker with age. Separation: A separated shoulder happens not in the ball-and-socket joint but closer to the neck, at the point where the top of the shoulder blade (scapula) meets the collarbone called the clavicle. The ligaments holding the two bones together are stretched or torn. Rotator Cuff Injury: The rotator cuff is the structure that holds the ball of the shoulder in its socket and comprises four muscles and several tendons that are attached to the ball, beneath the deltoid and pectoralis muscles. A rotator cuff injury can progress from inflammation to partial tears, small tears, and larger tears. One of the tendons in an injured rotator cuff may begin to detach from the arm bone. Symptoms include pain in the shoulder and upper arm which becomes worse with time and when the arm is lifted overhead or lowered.