How to treat shoulder injuries

Shoulder injuries sideline our favorite sports stars all the time, so it's no wonder...

Shoulder injuries sideline our favorite sports stars all the time, so it's no wonder those of us who aren't physically at the top of our game can also experience the debilitating effects of common shoulder injuries.

The shoulder is a complex joint made up of the humerus, or the upper arm, where it joins the upper pectoral area within the glenoid cavity, creating a ball and socket type of joint. This joint allows the arm to rotate in a 360 degree motion.

When you encounter shoulder injuries, most occur in the numerous muscles, ligaments and tendons around the joint or within the joint space itself. A shoulder injury can also cause neck pain, headaches and possibly numbness and tingling in the affected arm.

Common shoulder injuries

  • Instability: This sort of injury often results in a dislocation or separation caused by a direct blow to the shoulder or fall on an outstretched arm.
  • Impingement: This sort of pain can be the result of a rotator cuff (which holds the arm in the shoulder socket) injury and can be caused by overuse and normal wear and tear.
  • Tendinitis/bursitis: This type of injury is caused by overuse and repetitive motions; it causes the inflammation of the tendons or bursae (fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between muscle and bone.)
  • Frozen shoulder or fracture: A frozen shoulder usually occurs after an injury or surgery when the arm remains immobile for extended periods of time. A fracture is a result of an accident, direct blow or fall.

Tips for mild to moderate injuries

  1. Rest and ice: Rest the joint immediately after an injury. You may need to provide support to the joint with a brace and restrict certain activities for a short term. Ice the area off and on for the day before trying to rotate the arm.
  2. Begin moderate exercise: Move the joint in slow and controlled movements, or do some resistance exercises. Restricting motion for extended periods could result in increased immobility of the joint. Perform limited range of motion movements, such as controlled internal and external rotations, or abducting and adducting the arm. Build up as pain dissipates.
  3. Alleviate the pain: Take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen to reduce pain before exercise. Read the directions for dosage and take with food.
  4. Correct your posture: Stand straight at all times and roll your shoulders back in order to reduce the stress on the shoulder joint.
  5. Prevent future injuries: Strengthen some of the muscles around the joint, such as the biceps, triceps, trapezius and pectoralis major, with five to 10-pound weights.
  6. See a professional: Make an appointment with a physical therapist or Atlanta chiropractor for directed exercises and therapy to ease pain and strengthen the joint.

The shoulder girdle is the base for the upper body, so avoid injuries by keeping the joint strong with regular exercise and keeping your weight manageable.

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