Learn something new every day More Info... by email
A sprained shoulder occurs when one of the ligaments that supports the shoulder becomes excessively stretched or partially torn. This may occur due to a fall, a direct blow to the shoulder, or a forced twisting of the affected arm. Symptoms of a sprained shoulder may include pain, swelling, or a decreased ability to move the affected arm or shoulder. Treatment options may include rest, ice therapy, or supportive devices such as a brace or sling.
If a sprained shoulder is suspected, a doctor should be consulted in order to have the extent of the damage medically evaluated. In many instances, this condition can be successfully treated at home. Resting the affected shoulder is an important part of recovery, as too much movement could delay the healing process or cause further damage.
Ice therapy may help to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with a sprained shoulder. This treatment method is particularly useful during the first 24 to 48 hours following injury. An ice pack can be placed on the injured shoulder for about 15 minutes at a time and may be repeated several times per day.
Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen may be helpful in easing the pain and reducing the inflammation associated with a sprained shoulder. If these medications do not provide sufficient pain relief, a doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications. Supportive devices such as slings or braces may help to stabilize the shoulder and make it easier to avoid overuse during the healing process.
After the pain from the sprained shoulder begins to subside, gentle exercises may help to speed up the healing process and restore strength to the injured shoulder. If these exercises become painful, they should be discontinued until the shoulder has had a little more time to heal. A doctor or physical therapist should monitor the exercise program to make sure that the exercises are performed in a safe manner that avoids additional stress to the shoulder.
Occasionally, surgical intervention may become necessary to effectively treat a sprained shoulder. This is not common and is usually indicated only if there has been significant damage involving the shoulder ligaments or surrounding structures. If surgery does become necessary, it is particularly important to try to avoid future injuries to the shoulder, as these ligaments may continue to be a bit weaker than they were before the original sprained shoulder.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!