Shoulder Injury Mystery Solved, Maybe

Many of you may not know that my original background is in Mechanical Engineering with a Masters Degree in Business Analytics. I really just go back to school online for enjoyment which has turned out to be quite the worthwhile experience.

In one of my assignments this week we were asked to provide input to a discussion board on personal experience we’ve had related to the bench press exercise. I chose to share about a shoulder injury of mine and what impact it had:

“I’ve personally dealt with some shoulder issues that had a significant impact on my ability to perform the bench press. Almost ten years ago I worked up to a relatively high one rep max with consequently high working sets. During one workout involving an isolateral shoulder exercise utilizing cables, I experienced a peculiar failure in my shoulder joint with accompanying pain. I rested from weight lifting for a short period focusing on dynamic stretching and light loads amongst bouts of cardio. I worked my way back to a semi-regular load without any pain residing. I was, however, left with an odd sort of “popping” or “jolting” in the shoulder that caused no pain. This anomaly prevented me from performing certain movements safely such as dumbbell shoulder press or even bench press without consciously monitoring the trajectory throughout the range of motion. As of about two years ago, this had entirely resolved itself during working sets, but if I tried to force the joint to exhibit the previous behavior I could make it do so still without pain. I visited a specialist who performed a series of exams including ultrasound who could not identify any noticeable injury or physiological concern. I did opt for a particular form of treatment which has since nearly erased the concern in its entirety. Even though it has minimal to no impact on my current performance and ability, I still wonder to this day what may have actually happened. I just thought to share this as it seems directly relevant to the topic of current studies.” – Me

The following day I was prompted by the professor to explore potential explanations for the injury related to our present topic which was non-skeletal, or soft structures of the joint. The rest of this post is that finding. I hope you enjoy.

Upon initial review of the material for the week, I contemplated some concern with the glenohumeral joint, a “synovial ball and socket joint” (AnatomyZone, 2012). The interaction of the large humeral head with the shallow glenoid cavity appears to be the suspect area. I started to believe that the fibrocartilaginous collar referenced as the glenoid labrum, which finds itself between the mating surfaces mentioned previously, may be what weakened or failed in the form of a tear due to its role in “expand[ing] the depth of the glenoid fossa … to allow for increase motion” (University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority, n.d.) as well as centering, stabilizing, and optimizing shoulder mechanics. I started looking at other options, perhaps more so directed at a muscle-related injury which included the teres minor or supraspinatus. However, I then found an excerpt from a book talking specifically about the symptoms of a tear in or detachment of the glenoid labrum. “Large labral tears may produce “clicking” or “catching” sensations” (Md & Cscs, 2017, p. 101). This book was incredibly informative at first glance and might be one I study in the future. The research does not appear to be definite due to non-unique symptoms being present, but this very well may be a possible interpretation of the incident.


AnatomyZone. (2012, July 20). Shoulder Joint – Glenohumeral Joint – 3D Anatomy Tutorial. YouTube. (Links to an external site.)

Md, C. G. E., & Cscs, A. M. S. D. P. R. M. C. (2017). Clinical Orthopaedic Rehabilitation: A Team Approach (4th ed.). Elsevier.

University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. (n.d.). Labral (SLAP) Tears of the Shoulder. UW Health. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from,moves%20on%20the%20scapula%20(glenoid)

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