What to Do if You Suffer a Shoulder Injury

A shoulder injury can occur in people of all backgrounds and gender. The most common shoulder injuries include dislocation, rotator cuff tear, fracture, and separation. Unless it is a dramatic injury, the first thing a person should do after a shoulder injury is to treat it with RICE.

The definition of RICE:

Treatment of a specific shoulder injury after following the above first steps are as follows:

Dislocation is a common injury common inactive people. A doctor will push the ball of the upper arm back into the shoulder socket. Post-care treatment may include rest, ice, wearing a sling to stabilize the shoulder, and certain exercises to prevent further injury, improve shoulder range motion and strengthen the shoulder and surrounding muscles. Surgery may be needed if the dislocation is so severe that it damages nerves and tissue around the shoulder.

Rotator cuff tears can occur from a fall or repeated motions while working or playing a sport. Depending on the severity of the tear and overall health of the individual, the most common treatments for this injury include:

  • Medication
  • Rest
  • Heat compression
  • Electrical stimulation to the nerves and muscles
  • Cortisone injections
  • Ultrasound
  • Exercises

Surgery may be needed if a rotator cuff injury does not respond to any of these treatments.

Fractures are typically caused by a blow to the shoulder or from a fall. Fracture treatment includes re-positioning the bones so that it can heal correctly, placing the shoulder in a sling, and physical therapy exercises. Surgery is used only as a last resort for severe fractures.

A separated shoulder can be caused by falling or a blow to the shoulder. Typical treatment for a separated shoulder includes the aforementioned RICE treatment along with a sling to steady the shoulder and exercise after the shoulder has healed. Surgery may be used for a severe separation.