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Roof of the shoulder blade

Acromio-Clavicular Joint (ACJ)

The joint where the clavicle (collar bone) connects to the top of the shoulder blade - the acromion.


Arthritis is a group of conditions affecting joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and can be caused by trauma or aging of the joint. Pain in the joint due to inflammation is the most common symptom of arthritis, and this pain can prevent many physical and everyday activities.


Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgery to a joint. The surgeon inserts a tiny camera or arthroscope (a type of endoscope) into the joint through a tiny incision. The camera image is shown on a video monitor, enabling the surgeon to make a thorough examination of the area. Once the diagnosis has been made, other small incisions are made to allow small surgical instruments to be inserted. The entire operation is carried out while looking at the monitor.

Note: ‘Arthro’ refers to joints; Arthrology being the study of joints, Arthroplasty being the replacement of joints and so on.

Bone Spur

Osteophytes, sometimes known as bone spurs, are lumps or outgrowths of the bone, usually forming along a joint. Bone spurs are formed when the body tries to repair itself by producing more bone - usually in response to rubbing, pressure or stress over a period of time.


A bursa is a small sack filled with synovial fluid found in some joints in the body. A bursa provides a cushion between the tendons/muscles and bones in a joint, reducing friction and allowing smooth movement.


A sleeve of fibrous tissues that encircle the joint.


Cartilage is a stiff but flexible connective tissue that enables bones in the joints to move against each other smoothly. Cartilage is more flexible than bone, but not as flexible as muscle. It has virtually no blood supply, so cannot be easily regenerated by the body.


A narrow tube, inserted into parts of the body.


Commonly known as the collarbone, the clavicle connects the acromion of the scapula to the sternum (breast bone).

Cortico-Steroid Injection

Steroidal anti-inflammatory injections, used directly to the source of pain to reduce pain and inflammation.


Dislocation is when bones in a joint become displaced or misaligned. This is often caused by a sudden impact to the joint. Ligaments and the capsule will become damaged as a result of a dislocation.

Glenohumeral Joint

The glenohumeral joint is the main joint of the shoulder, where the ball of the humerus meets the socket of the glenoid fossa of the shoulder blade.


Sometimes known as double jointedness, hypermobile joints move more than is normal. Hypermobility usually affects multiple joints in the body. Hypermobility in a single joint is usually due to previous dislocation.


The humerus is the long bone in the arm that runs from shoulder to elbow, connecting the scapula with the lower arm.


Impingement is a condition where parts of a joint catch or rub against each other as a result of bone spurs or damage to the joint. Impingement can cause pain and reduced movement in the joint.


The body’s reaction to injury, inflammation involves swelling and the release of chemicals which irritate the surrounding tissues.


One of the muscles in the rotator cuff group. Function: Externally rotates the arm.

Keyhole Surgery

see arthroscopy

Labral Tear

A tear to the labrum.


Fibrocartilage which sits on the rim of the glenoid fossa, creating a slightly deeper socket.


A ligament is a fibrous tissue that connect bones to other bones in a joint. A ligament can be a re-inforcing part of a capsule.

MRI Scan

(Magnetic Resonance Imaging) An MRI scan uses magnetic fields and radio waves to generate images of the inner parts of the body in a non-invasive manner. Useful for diagnosing soft tissue or cartilage damage which doesn’t show up on an x-ray.

Osteoarthritis (osteoarthrosis)

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It usually occurs in older people, often as a result of previous injury to a joint, or simply the wearing away of cartilage. The disease causes bones to become misshapen, which affects the movement of the joint, and usually also results in soft tissue damage.


see Bone Spur


Physiotherapy is provided within the NHS and offers treatment to individuals to maintain and develop maximum movement and function throughout life. Physiotherapists provide treatment in circumstances where movement and function are threatened by aging, injury, disease or environmental factors.

Repetitive Strain

Strain arising from a repeated action within a task often in the workplace.

Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is the group of muscles and connecting tendons which stabilise the shoulder joint. The muscles making up the rotator cuff are: the supraspinatus, the infraspinatus, the teres minor and the subscapularis muscle.


Commonly known as the shoulder blade, the scapula connects the humerus with the clavicle.

Shoulder Blade

see Scapula

Subacromial Bursa

The bursa situated beneath the acromion.

Subacromial Bursitis

Inflammation of the subacromial bursa.
A condition caused by inflammation of the bursa


A subluxation is a partial dislocation, where the joint moves more than it should, but without actual dislocation.


One of the muscles in the rotator cuff group. Function: Internally rotates the humerus.


One of the muscles in the rotator cuff group. Function: Abducts the arm.


A tendon is a tough band of fibrous tissue that connect muscles to bone. Tendons and muscles work together.

Tendon Sheath

Some tendons are surrounded by a membrane called a tendon sheath. This is filled with a gel-like fluid that lubricates the tendon, enabling it to move smoothly and elastically.

Teres Minor

One of the muscles in the rotator cuff group. Function: Externally rotates the arm.


A physical injury.


The waves from electromagnetic radiation can penetrate the body, but are blocked by hard materials (such as bone). An x-ray source is placed on one side of the body, and an x-ray film or detector is placed on the other side. The places where the rays are blocked show up on x-ray film as lighter or white areas