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What to do During And After Your Shoulder Injury

Posted by Andrea Hamel

November 25, 2014 at 12:00 AM

A shoulder injury of any kind can seem like a daunting experience for anyone who has never had such an injury before. And for athletic individuals who thrive off of an active lifestyle, it can put a serious damper on their workout regimen and involvement in sports for a period of time. That is why the proper recovery is imperative for complete healing. Without it, you are opening yourself up to even more damage to your shoulder and more annoying and serious shoulder problems. In this post, you will learn about what to do during and after your shoulder injury, whether is it a dislocation, separation, or rotator cuff tear.

what to do about your shoulder injury

Shoulder Dislocation

In some cases when the shoulder is twisted or pulled too hard, it will cause the ball at the top of the upper arm bone to pop out of its socket. This is what is known as a shoulder dislocation and a doctor will have to put the shoulder back in place before any further treatment can be done. Once a medical professional has corrected the shoulder, the following treatment can take place:

  • Rest Your Shoulder: As rudimentary as this piece of advice sounds, it's worth repeating since it is easier said that done: rest your shoulder (as well as the rest of your body). Without adequate rest and limited movement, at least in the beginning stages of your injury, you will only end up causing further damage to your shoulder. Consult with your primary care physician about the next steps that need to be taken in order to completely heal your shoulder and ask how long you will need to rest your shoulder before you can safely start using it again.
  • Ice it Three to Four Times Daily: Remember to ice your shoulder whenever you are resting it. Ice the injured area for twenty minutes at a time before removing the cold and doing it again in a few hours. The ice will help reduce the inflammation in the superficial tissues that have been damaged. Without properly icing your dislocated shoulder on a regular basis, you will be left with more pain, swelling, and aggravation than necessary. 
  • Wear a Sling: Depending on how serious your dislocation is, you will most likely be required to have a sling to keep your shoulder in place until it is properly healed. When your shoulder is kept in one place, it will prevent it from becoming further injured and therefore prolonging your recovery time. After being checked by your primary care physician or a shoulder pain specialist, you will be given a sling or be directed to the right resources in order the get a sling that fits you.
  • Begin Exercising Your Shoulder And Arm: Once approved by a medical professional, you will want to begin lightly exercising your shoulder near the end of your recovery. The proper exercises (sometimes done with the assistance of a physical therapist) will help you strengthen your muscles, improve your range of motion, and prevent the same injuries from occurring in the future. 

Shoulder Separation

A shoulder separation can be caused by anything from a fall with an outstretched hand, a sports injury, or a hard impact to the shoulder area. Treatment will vary with each case and will depend on the severity of the injury as well as the age and health of the person who is injured. Below are some forms of treatment that can be used: 

  • Everything You Would do For a Dislocated Shoulder: Similarly to healing a shoulder dislocation, you will need to rest your shoulder for the appropriate length of time, keep it in a sling, ice it, and begin gentle exercises to regain strength and mobility after the resting period is over. Beyond that, there are a couple more things you will need to do in order to effectively and completely heal a separated shoulder. Treatments for a separated shoulder range from something as minor as taking over the counter pain reliever to the possibility of operating on the injured area.
  • Take Aspirin: Take aspirin, another form of generic pain reliever, or prescribed pain medication if the dislocation is severe enough and you have gotten the approval from a medical professional. The pain reliever will not only reduce some of the pain, it will play a large part in reducing the swelling and aggravation in the shoulder. 
  • Surgery: In some cases, a separated shoulder will need to be operated on. Only after being examined by a medical professional will a surgery be scheduled. The injury to the shoulder will have to be fairly severe before a surgery would take place. Separated shoulders are caused by a tear in the ligaments between the shoulder blade and collarbone. When the tear is serious enough, it increases that chances that surgery will be needed. 

Rotator Cuff Tear

Athletes who frequently use an overhand motion, such as swimmers and baseball pitchers, are more likely to suffer from a rotator cuff tear. A rotator cuff tear can also be caused by a fall or when the tendons become inflamed with aging or frequent use. Treatment for a torn rotator cuff will depend on a variety of factors including age, health, and how long the rotator cuff has been injured, but in general treatment for this type of injury is more complex that treatment for other shoulder injures. Some examples of what you will need to do during and after a torn rotator cuff injury are as follows:

  • Hot And Cold Therapy: Use a combination of an ice packet and a heating pad on the sore area. Alternate between both hot and cold multiple times a day and switch them every twenty minutes. This will help greatly reduce the inflammation in the shoulder as well as some of the pain. The cold slows down the blood flow to the injured area, thus preventing swelling, while the heat soothes the shoulder. 
  • Electrical Stimulation: For more severe tears, a medical professional may recommend a series of treatments that include electrical stimulation. The electrical stimulation will be used on the muscles and nerves in and around the injured shoulder area. The electrodes are placed on the area to decrease the pain in the nerves and stimulate the muscles so that they begin to contract properly. The electrical stimulation will also promote better blood flow in order to speed up the recovery process.  
  • Surgery: Operation on a torn rotator cuff is usually a last resort. There are a variety of other treatments that the doctor will use before deciding on whether or not surgery is the best option. But if other forms of therapy and treatment have not worked including cortisone injections, medications, exercises, and ultrasound, surgery may be required. 

Looking for more advice on ways you can treat your shoulder injury and heal it correctly? Don't hesitate to contact us today! We are eager to help people with a variety of injuries find the right resources and products that they need to effectively and properly treat themselves. Our team offers high quality medical products for anyone suffering from knee pain, joint pain, shoulder injuries, wrist injuries, back pain, back injuries, and tennis elbow among other conditions. Come check out our variety of braces, supports, and more.  

Topics: shoulder injuries

    

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