The shoulder is the most flexible joint in your body, but that freedom of movement makes it susceptible to injuries. Injuries to the shoulder usually involve tendons, ligaments and muscles, rather than bone. Shoulder injuries are common, even in people who don’t participate in any kind of athletics, and they can affect other areas of your body, such as your neck and back.
Additionally, an injured shoulder can make it hard to perform routine tasks or to focus on anything else. The joint specialists at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) can identify the cause of your shoulder pain and recommend the best treatment to heal an injury and limit your discomfort.
Non-Athletic Causes of Shoulder Injuries
An injury to your shoulder can lead to symptoms such as pain, numbness, swelling, bruising, a loss of strength or a limited range of motion. Pain may be severe and sudden. While this type of injury is very common in athletes, there are several other possible causes that have nothing to do with sports. Causes of shoulder injuries unrelated to athletics include:
- Repetitive motion. Working at an occupation that involves repetitive motion or that requires you to hold your arms over your head for long periods of time increases the risk of hurting your shoulder.
- Overuse. A sudden injury to your shoulder can happen when you overuse the muscles while doing projects around the house, lifting heavy objects or other common tasks.
- Trauma. A blunt-force trauma, such as from a car accident or a fall on an outstretched arm, can cause an injury that ranges from minor to severe.
A sedentary lifestyle also contributes to the risk that a sudden movement or ordinary activity results in an injury to your shoulder joint or the surrounding soft tissues. Shoulder problems also may occur in the ordinary process of aging, as in the onset of arthritis.
Treatment of Shoulder Pain and Injury
Treatment of a shoulder injury depends on the severity and type of injury, as well as how long ago the injury occurred. Early detection always prevents injuries from worsening. Your treatment options may also be limited by your age and general health. Levels of treatment include:
- You can sometimes treat minor injuries to your shoulder with rest, ice, compression, elevation and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, but don’t try any at-home remedies until you’ve received a diagnosis from your SSI doctor. Don’t treat shoulder symptoms until you know what’s causing them.
- If home remedies don’t work, physical therapy helps strengthen your shoulders and improve range of motion.
- For more serious injuries, such as a torn rotator cuff, you may require minimally invasive surgery.
How to Prevent Shoulder Injuries
A healthy diet and regular exercise are the best ways to keep your body strong and healthy, while reducing the risk of injury. To help prevent injuries to your shoulders, be sure to warm up before doing any type of exercise or heavy use of your arms and shoulders. Participate in exercise routines that strengthen and stabilize the shoulder joint.
It’s common to underestimate the extent of a shoulder injury, but ignoring persistent pain from any injury can worsen the pain and possibly cause more serious problems. Consult the experts at SSI for treatment of injuries to your shoulder or back and for more information about preventing shoulder injuries.