The shoulder is a very complicated joint.

Figure 1: The shoulder joint connects the arm to the shoulder blade. There is a group of muscles that move the shoulder and arm whose tendons form a capsule around the joint called the rotator cuff. Damage to the joint or the tendons can result in pain and loss of movement of the joint. 

Pain and restricted movement of the shoulder is a common form of disability. It can be due to arthritis in the shoulder joint or can be due to damage or degeneration of the tendons and ligaments that support the shoulder. There are shoulder impingement syndromes and people can develop a frozen shoulder, which means that there is little or no movement at all.

The rotator cuff is the group of tendons and ligaments that surround the shoulder. It keeps the ball in the joint socket and allows a large range of motion for the shoulder. Damage caused by falls, sporting injuries or work related injuries can result in tears to one or more of the rotator cuff tendons. Tendons have a very limited blood supply and often fail to heal completely which can lead to chronic pain and dysfunction. Osteoarthritis results from damage to the cartilage and bones that form the joint. There are a number of potential treatment options depending on the cause of the shoulder pain.

Doctors can diagnose the cause of a person’s shoulder pain by asking a series of questions which include: When did the pain start? Was there a specific injury recently or in the past? Is the movement of the joint restricted by pain or weakness? etc. They can also examine the person’s shoulder to see how much mobility there is, and if there are specific areas that are tender when responding to exerted pressure and manipulation. X-rays will show if there is a broken bone or arthritis in the joint. Ultrasound can show fluid and tears in the soft tissue of the shoulder. The best test is an MRI scan, which shows the cartilage, tendons, ligament and other structures within the joint. It will show damage to the soft tissue or the cartilage. Shoulder arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that involves putting a scope into the joint, which allows the surgeon to see if there is damage to the joint cartilage, which he can clean up.

Treatment options depend on the cause of the problem. Arthritis in the joint can be treated with Cortisone injections, Hyaluronic Acid injections, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections, Stem Cell injections, arthroscopy or total joint replacement surgery. Rotator cuff damage can be treated with physiotherapy to improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles that support the joint. PRP or stem cell injections can heal damaged ligaments and tendons.

The Welcome Back Clinic can arrange for an expedited consultation with an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulder problems. The clinic also has an onsite MRI scanner and procedure room where different types of treatments can be performed. For more information call 250-828-6740 or email us at

Using Stem Cell Therapy to Treat Rotator Cuff