Common Types of Shoulder Injuries
- Sprains: overstretching or tearing a ligament that connects bone to bone
- Strain: overstretching of tendons or muscles
- Tendinitis: inflammation of a tendon
- Dislocation: an injury in which the bone is displaced from the joint
- Rotator Cuff Injuries: an injury to the shoulder and involving the muscles of the rotator cuff
Treatment & Self-Care
Treatment focuses on avoiding further injury and gradually strengthening the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint to prevent re-injury.
- Rest: Use your shoulder as little as possible for the first two days immediately after the injury. After 2 days of rest, make sure you begin to use your shoulder more, but do so gently and slowly so as not to re-injure it.
- Posture: Avoid slouching, support elbows on chair arm rests or desk when possible
- Ice: Use ice in a plastic bag for 15 minutes once an hour to control pain. Ice after exercise if your shoulder is sore. Wrap ice in soft cloth to avoid direct skin contact and possible frost bite.
- Medication: Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen sodium and ibuprofen, can help decrease the pain and inflammation of a shoulder injury. Acetaminophen will treat pain but not relieve inflammation.
- Prevention: Lighten backpack; Avoid prolonged activities that stress shoulder such as computer work, driving and weight lifting.
Exercises & Physical Therapy
Lean over table, letting injured arm hang straight down in a relaxed position. Move your hips to cause your arm to move side-to-side, in circles, and forward and back. Begin with small movement and gradually increase.
If you have a dislocation, follow the instructions of your clinician regarding these stretches.
- Inferior Capsule Stretch: Hold injured arm overhead with elbow bent. Use other hand to stretch arm further. Hold for 20 seconds, repeat 3 to 5 times.
- Posterior Capsule Stretch: Grasp elbow of injured arm with opposite hand. Pull injured arm across chest to stretch the back of the shoulder. Hold for 20 seconds, repeat 3 to 5 times.
- Anterior capsule stretch: Stand in doorway with arms out to side at shoulder height, with elbows straight and thumbs up. Press your chest through the doorway, so that your arms are stretched back, to stretch the front of the shoulder. Hold for 20 seconds, repeat 3 to 5 times.
- Shoulder Flexion: Stand with your injured arm at your side, elbow straight and palm against side. Raise arm in front with thumb up. Continue overhead as far as possible then slowly lower your arm. Gradually increase to 3 sets of 10. Then try the exercises holding a soup can in your hand
- Shoulder Abduction: Stand with injured arm at side, elbow straight and palm facing forward. Raise arm to side with thumb up. Continue overhead as far as possible. Lower slowly. Gradually increase to 3 sets of 10. Then try the exercises holding a soup can in your hand.
- Shoulder Scaption: Stand with arm at side, with elbow straight and palm facing forward. Raise arm in front about 30 degrees forward from side, with thumb up. Continue overhead as far as possible. Lower slowly. Gradually increase to 3 sets of 10. Then try the exercises holding a soup can in your hand.
- Wall Push-ups: Stand facing wall with palms on wall and elbows straight. Do a push-up on the wall. Start with set of 10 and increase to 3 sets of 10. Gradually progress to a counter top, then coffee table top, then the floor. Each time you progress to a lower level, decrease the number of repetitions and work back up to 3 sets of 10.
- Press-ups: Sit in a chair with arms. Place your hands on the chair arms, straighten your elbows and lift your body up from the chair. Start with a set of 5 and gradually increase to 3 sets of 10.
When should I see a clinician?
Most shoulder injuries can be treated with these conservative measures. However, you should return to the clinician if you note any of the following:
- Shoulder pain with fever, swelling or redness
- Problems moving the shoulder
- Pain for more than 2 weeks despite at home treatment
- Red or blue coloring to the shoulder
- Numbness or tingling down the arm
In an emergency go to Mount Nittany Medical Center or call 911 for an ambulance.
Test Results and Advice Nurse
Send secure message to advice nurse via the UHS website or call 814- 863-4463.
Appointments can be made online via the UHS website, by phone 814-863-0774, or in person. If you are unable to keep your appointment, please call or go online to cancel. Otherwise you will be charged for the visit.
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. This information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional. 5/7/18