Shoulder Problems: Common Shoulder Injuries and Treatment Options

shoulder injuries

Do you realize how much you use your shoulders? While we don’t often think about it, shoulder use is a huge part of our day.

Every time you brush your hair, walk your dog, answer the phone, or lift or push something, you’re using your shoulder.

Since we use our shoulders so often, shoulder injuries are common. But how, exactly can you injure a shoulder? They’re pretty solid, aren’t they?

Shoulders are highly mobile parts of our bodies and they’re made up of several elements, all of which can be injured.

Are you wondering if you’ve ever had a shoulder injury instead of just some random pain? Here’s a list of common shoulder injuries and how they’re treated.

Shoulder Injuries: An Overview

Since there are so many components that make up your shoulder, there are many things that can be injured in your shoulder area. These include the bones, tendons, and ligaments. Each element can be damaged, resulting in a shoulder injury.

Shoulder pain is versatile. It can come on suddenly, or slowly build. You may feel only a dull sense of pain or weakness, or you may have sharp pain and loss of mobility.

Shoulder injuries are most common in younger people and athletes. However, they can happen to anyone who pushes their bodies beyond their normal limits.

There are several common shoulder injuries, including separation, dislocation, tears, and fractures.

Shoulder Separation

When ligaments in the shoulder are torn, the injury is known as a separation or sprain. Falls are the most common causes of this type of injury.

If you’re experiencing a shoulder separation you’re likely in severe pain. You won’t be able to move your arm very well, and you may have a bump on your shoulder.

To treat a separation or sprain, apply ice as soon as possible. This will help lessen both pain and swelling.

To encourage ligament healing, keep your arm in a sling. You may need physical therapy or surgery to completely recover from a shoulder separation.

Shoulder Dislocation

When the ligaments holding your shoulder bones are no longer able to hold the joint together, this is known as a dislocation or dislocated shoulder. If you have this type of shoulder injury you will likely feel a pain that gets worse when you move.

Injuries of this type are commonly caused by falls and twisting and they will require urgent care. A dislocation will quickly become swollen and painful.

Your doctor will carefully pull your shoulder back into place, but you may have continuing problems. If your shoulder repeatedly pops out of its socket, surgery can repair the torn ligaments to keep your shoulder in place.

Rotator Cuff Tear

Your rotator cuff muscles are highly important to your shoulder’s mobility. They’re the muscles that make it so you can raise and rotate your arm. Tendons secure these muscles to your bones.

This type of shoulder injury is most commonly found in middle-aged people or adults who already have shoulder problems. But a rotator cuff tear may also result from falling, trying to catch a heavy object, or lifting heavy objects with your arm extended.

When assessing this type of injury, your doctor tests the mobility and strength of your shoulder and arm. They may also use an X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound to diagnose the injury.

Your shoulder will be sore and tender, and pressure to the area may cause pain.

There are two types of tears you could have: incomplete, or complete.

If you have an incomplete tear you’ll likely only need typical shoulder treatments, including rest, ice, compression, and elevation. A complete tear may require more in-depth repair, such as surgery.

With this type of injury, you’ll need to participate in physical therapy as you work to regain shoulder movement. You may also need pain medications.

Shoulder Fracture

A fracture is the most serious type of shoulder injury you can get. This injury comes from something with a lot of energy behind it, such as a sports tackle or a car accident.

Not all fractures are the same. You may have a hairline fracture, which is only a thin crack in the bone, or you may have broken the bone completely. If this is the case, you won’t be able to use your arm.

Sharp pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness, a bump, and a grinding feeling are all symptoms of shoulder fractures.

Fractures can’t cause issues other than broken bones. If a blood vessel was injured you may have internal bleeding, and weakness, tingling, or numbness may occur if you damaged a nerve.

Fractures require immobilization, so you’ll need to use a sling. You may also want to use icing and pain medication. In the event you need surgery, the fractured fragments will be put back in place through the use of screws and plates.

Shoulder Injuries Can Be Prevented

While shoulder injuries are common, that doesn’t mean they’re required. Taking proper care of your body can prevent any major shoulder injuries from occurring.

Limit your exposure to hard-contact sports, such as football, that may result in your shoulder being smashed into the ground or being hit hard. Drive safely to do your part in avoiding auto accidents that lead to injury.

Warming up before exercising or participating in sports may also help prevent injury.

You won’t be able to completely prevent or plan ahead for shoulder injuries, but knowing how they’re caused is a good way to try to avoid them. Knowing how to treat and diagnose them is helpful too. That way, you’ll be prepared for when they happen.

Curious about other medical-related topics? Check out the health & wellness section of our blog for more posts like this one.

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