When you injure your shoulder, however slightly, you realize how much you rely on the joint to do everyday tasks. And since the shoulder joint is the loosest in the body, you can injure it in many different ways. If you’re experiencing the pain and stiffness in your shoulder from an injury, get medical help and guidance from the sports injury doctor in NJ, leading pain management specialists at Redefine Healthcare in northern New Jersey.
A shoulder injury usually shows up as swelling in your shoulder joint, along with pain when you move your arms or shoulders. You feel a general stiffness in the vicinity of your shoulder, which makes simple acts painful. Getting a box of cereal from the top shelf in your kitchen cabinet suddenly becomes impossible. The likelihood of you losing the strength in the shoulder and arms is also high.
With shoulder injuries, you sometimes feel a grinding sensation as you move your shoulders.
Because there are so many moving parts in your shoulder joint, you need to be examined by a pain management specialist at Redefine Healthcare pain clinic in northern New Jersey. You may have torn tendons, popped your shoulder or fractured or broken a bone.
What Leads to a Shoulder Injury
Shoulder injuries are predominant in young adults who play sports. When you swim or play tennis, for example, you use the same muscles repeatedly. That can lead to overuse problems and injuries in your shoulders. If you work at a desk during the week and then participate in a competitive sport on the weekend, you can injure your shoulder due to a lack of preparation.
Your risk of a shoulder injury increases as you reach middle age because your muscles aren’t as supple as they were when you were younger.
Another common cause comes from doing a lot of manual work. Construction workers, gardeners, window cleaners and painters complain of shoulder injuries. Constantly reaching overhead or moving your arms the same way repeatedly causes stiffness, limiting your shoulders’ range of motion.
Types of Shoulder Injuries
When your shoulder starts hurting, certain conditions may make you vulnerable to injury. You may be suffering from glenohumeral arthritis, which damages the cartilage in the joint, or from osteoporosis, which weakens the bones in the joint. Alternatively, you may have a pinched nerve in your neck or upper back pain.
Common shoulder injuries happen to anyone, young or old. Most often, you succumb to conditions or trauma, such as:
- Shoulder instability. When your shoulder joint pops or slides out from the shoulder socket, you may have a partial injury or a complete dislocation.
Impingement syndrome. This involves the rotator cuff tendon or bursa that becomes inflamed. When you move your shoulders, the swollen tendon rubs against the shoulder joint, causing pain.
- Frozen shoulder. This condition comes in three stages. It starts with immense pain, after which your shoulder becomes stuck, losing any range of motion. It’s a treatable, but disconcerting medical condition.
- Shoulder bursitis. When the fluid-filled bursa of your shoulder become inflamed, your joint loses the ability to minimize friction between the tendons and bones.
- Shoulder tendinitis. This develops when your rotator cuff tendons or bicep tendon is inflamed and irritated.
- Shoulder separation. This shoulder injury occurs when your collar bone and shoulder blade are completely or partially separated.
- Shoulder joint tear. This condition represents a tear in the tissue that surrounds the shoulder socket.
- Fractures. You can sustain hairline fractures or complete breaks. A fall, direct impact or a car accident are the usual causes.
- Shoulder sprains or strains. When you tear or stretch a shoulder ligament, it’s a sprain. With a stretched or torn muscle, it’s a strain.
Treatment for Shoulder Injures
As there are many ways you can injure your shoulder, your shoulder specialist needs to examine you to make a diagnosis. You may undergo physical tests to determine your mobility. If your shoulder injury is a fracture or a dislocation, your doctor may provide a sling to help you keep the joint immobile while it heals.
Your New Jersey doctor may recommend other shoulder injury treatments for you, depending on your case. Contact the best NJ pain doctor specialist Dr. Freeman of Redefine Healthcare or visit one of their four locations to get treatment that may include:
- Resting your shoulders by avoiding all those activities that aggravate your injury
- Using an ice pack to ease your pain and reduce the inflammation
- Taking over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen for pain relief. Your doctor may write a prescription for stronger medications if necessary.
- Choosing steroid injections for faster pain relief. While this treatment may only last for several months, it gives you time to participate in rehabilitation free of pain.
- Starting physical therapy once your pain has subsided. The exercises and stretches help you regain flexibility and strength in your shoulders.
Shoulder Injuries FAQ
How should you ice an injury?
Early pain management is important to promote faster healing of most common shoulder injuries. If you have just suffered a shoulder injury it is important to manage symptoms such as pain, swelling and inflammation. Controlling these symptoms can be done with the use of ice or a cold pack. Ice will minimize any swelling or inflammation by reducing the amount of blood flow to the injured shoulder.
- Do not use ice directly on the skin, instead use a cloth to wrap the ice or cold pack before applying it to the shoulder injury.
- Do not use ice for more than 30 minutes.
- Make sure not to use ice before any exercise. Ice constricts blood vessels, and this is only beneficial after an injury to reduce swelling. Using it prior to some form of exercise can increase the risk for injury.
How many days should you ice an injury?
Early management of shoulder injury symptoms is important in ensuring a fast and speedy recovery. Swelling and inflammation of a shoulder injury usually peaks within the first three days but can last much longer depending on the nature and severity of the injury. It is important to manage these symptoms as soon as you think the injury has occurred. Reducing swelling with ice or a cold pack within the 2-3 days after injury will speed up the recovery process. Your doctor may recommend continuing using to ice depending on what type of shoulder injury you have to help reduce the pain.
How often should you ice an injury?
Using ice or a cold pack to reduce redness, heat, and swelling right after an injury is important in ensuring a fast and painless recovery. Cold therapy using ice should not be used for more than 30 minutes. Although the cold is beneficial in helping the shoulder heal, too much cold can start to lead to frostbite on the skin. That is why it recommended to not go over 30 minutes when icing one area. You can ice the shoulder injury throughout the day, but it is also important to give your skin a break from the cold. Usually, icing is recommended three or four times a day. Depending on the type of shoulder injury you have your doctor may ask you to continue using ice for several weeks.
How long should swelling last after an injury?
Swelling and inflammation are your body’s response when an injury occurs. After an injury, particularly to soft tissue, your body increases the blood flow to the damaged area so that it can lock down the area and begin the repair. However, the increase in blood flow and fluids to one local area can create pain, immobilization and more pressure on surrounding tissues. Usually, the swelling and inflammation will peak within 3 days after an injury but can continue to last for up to 6 weeks depending on the type of shoulder injury. Talk to your doctor after you experience a shoulder injury to figure out how long your inflammation may last.
When should you apply heat to an injury?
Heat increases blood flow to the injured area and should not be used if you are trying to reduce swelling or inflammation. Using heat is beneficial for helping with stiff joints and relaxing muscles. This is good for the type of shoulder injuries that include chronic pain by opening up the blood vessels to relax, increasing the amount of nutrients going to that area, and reducing muscle or joint stiffness. Talk to your doctor about the type of shoulder injury you have to decide if you need to apply heat to the injured area.
- Make sure to use warm, not “hot” temperatures
- Use a warm cloth, heating pad or moist heat
- Do not apply the heat for more than 30 minutes
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