How to Treat Shoulder Injuries

In addition to elbow and knee injuries, which previous blog posts have addressed, shoulder injuries are also common – particularly among athletes.

One type of shoulder injury is a dislocation. Dislocations occur when the shoulder receives a strong force that pulls the arm in an extreme direction, during a fall or a sports injury, for example. The shoulder joint can dislocate forward, backward or downward. A common type is a forward slip.

With a dislocation, you’ll feel intense pain and your shoulder will look out of place. Accompanying muscle spasms around the joint also frequently cause pain. You’re also likely to notice bruises, swelling, numbness and a feeling of weakness.

When your orthopaedic surgeon treats you for a traumatic shoulder dislocation, he or she will usually give you medication to decrease the pain and the spasms and then use traction to put it back into place, recommending the use of a sling to protect it as it heals.

Following a dislocated shoulder, there are several exercises you can do to increase the strength and control of the rotator cuff and shoulder blade muscles to reduce the chances of a repeat dislocation. These include:

  • Closed grip pull downs, rowing on a machine and shrugs to help increase shoulder blade strength.
  • Rotation exercises with your arm down at the side to promote rotator cuff strength. Resistant tubing can also be used.

If shoulder instability becomes a disability and a conservative exercise program has failed, surgery to have the stretched ligaments tightened and/or repaired can stabilize the shoulder.