The shoulder can be dislocated or separated due to falls, trauma, sports injuries, and accidents. Some sports have a high risk of affecting the shoulder, such as volleyball, football, rugby, and skiing. Anyone can be affected by a shoulder injury, but young people and athletes are more prone to injury.
The difference in symptoms
A person with a separated shoulder will experience pain and a bump at the top of the shoulder. Dislocated shoulder symptoms usually include severe pain, deformed shoulder, swelling, and bruising. A person with a dislocated shoulder may experience difficulty moving the joint, weakness, numbness, and tingling. If any of these symptoms are present, seek help from a healthcare provider.
Managing shoulder separation
A separated shoulder is initially managed conservatively. Non-surgical treatment includes the use of a sling, ice application, and physical therapy. Over-the-counter medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may provide initial pain relief. With conservative treatment, the recovery time takes about 2-12 weeks. The doctor may recommend avoiding lifting heavy objects 8-12 weeks after recovery. Surgery is usually reserved for more serious cases and when non-surgical treatment fails.
Treatment of dislocated shoulder
A dislocated shoulder is a serious problem that requires immediate medical attention. The management options include closed reduction, immobilization, rehabilitation, pain medications, and surgery. Closed reduction is a procedure where the doctor helps put the shoulder back in place. Next, immobilization is performed where a splint or sling is applied, and then rehabilitation takes place. Surgery is reserved for those with repeated shoulder dislocations or weakened shoulder joints or ligaments.
Focus on prevention
Some tips can be followed to decrease the risk of shoulder injuries. Get involved in physical activity that stretches and strengthens the shoulder muscles. Whenever pain is felt in the shoulder, stop doing that particular activity and give the shoulder some rest. Apply ice or protective padding when necessary. Try to avoid falls and sports injuries when possible.
When to seek help
If the shoulder is injured, contact a doctor as soon as possible to determine if a dislocation or separation has occurred. If symptoms are ignored, there is a chance of ongoing pain, and damage to cartilage, blood vessels, and nerves. Non-surgical and surgical treatment options are available, depending on the extent of the injury. Pain medications can also help. With the right combination, shoulder injuries don’t have to be such a pain.