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Shoulder Injury Recovery

Introduction     |    Types of Shoulder Injuries      |    Rehab

Recovering from an injury can be frustrating and quite the endeavor. Shoulder injuries are notorious for being a tough recovery and rehabilitation. With such a complex joint, rehabbing a shoulder injury can be painful and take time. This is not the type of rehab you want to rush or do in a slapdash manner. It would be great if there were exercises and medical aids that could expedite the healing method and rehab program. We here at HPFY can give you some guidance on recovering from your shoulder injury.

Shoulder Joint

Shoulder Injuries

I am sure just about everyone has felt a twinge or pain in the shoulder. Sadly, there are a number of ways that we can injure our shoulder. Whether it involves the rotator cuff or collarbone, these injuries can be painful. Trust me, surfing on a toboggan is a great way to injure your shoulder joint (I know this firsthand). Just the actions of throwing a baseball or mowing the lawn requires our shoulders to, well shoulder the load. Common injuries to the shoulder joint include:

  • Shoulder Instability: Actions such as throwing a baseball put unnatural forces on the shoulder joint itself. This can lead to muscles and ligaments in the shoulder joint to become loose. This can lead to a shoulder separation or sprain.
  • Rotator Cuff Tear: There are four muscles in your upper arm that make up the rotator cuff. These are primarily responsible for raising and rotating your arm. These muscles are attached to your bones by tendons that when torn, the humerus bone no longer can move easily in the socket. This can be extremely painful and a tough rehab.
  • Arthritis: As with any other joint, the shoulder is susceptible to arthritis. This happens when cartilage in the shoulder starts to wear away. This is called osteoporosis and depending upon the severity could even lead to shoulder joint replacement.
  • Shoulder Strain: Weekend warriors are very familiar with this type of injury. For those of us who don’t exercise regularly, overuse can lead to more stress on the shoulder than it is accustomed to. This can lead to temporary inflammation and pain.
  • Frozen Shoulder: This one is a little rarer, affecting approximately 2% of the population. Often sufferers are between 40-60 and can affect those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and even thyroid/heart disease. The symptom of this type of injury is not being able to move your arm in any direction without experiencing pain.
 

Rehabbing Your Injury

Once you have healed from your specific type of injury, rehabilitation can now begin. Your type of rehab program will depend on your type of injury and the area that needs to be rehabbed or strengthened. You should always consult your doctor or orthopedic surgeon before starting any type of rehab program. Your doctor/surgeon may even prescribe physical therapy. Common methods for recovering from a shoulder injury include:

  • Rest: This one is a little bit obvious. Rest allows the injured area to start the healing process. Usually about 2-3 days is sufficient to allow the injured area to recover enough to allow you to start light exercise in the injured shoulder. One way to promote proper shoulder alignment is with the Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow to allow you to get the necessary sleep you need to speed up recovery. During this time instead of reaching or extending your shoulder to grab something, try the Lightweight Aluminum Reacher to extend your reach safely. You have two choices; extend your reach by 26 inches or 32 inches.
  • Ice/Cold Therapy: Utilizing cold therapy can help reduce swelling or inflammation in the injured shoulder. Using an ice compress or cold therapy system, such as the Polar Active Ice Cold Therapy System, for 20 minutes at a time on the injured shoulder can expedite recovery. Another option is the Sealed Ice Polar Ice Shoulder and Hip Wrap which can apply cold therapy to the injured shoulder while insulating skin from frostbite with soft, comfortable fleece.
  • NSAIDs: These over-the-counter painkiller/anti-inflammatories can help reduce shoulder pain and inflammation. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and salsalate.
  • Heat Therapy: Usually used in conjunction with ice/cold therapy, applying heat to the injured area can help blood flow. It is this increase blood flow that helps with injury recovery and healing. Use of a heating pad or hot pack can easily be applied to the injured shoulder. Alternating hot and cold can be a very effective method for a shoulder injury recovery technique.
  • Resistance Exercise: Once you are free from pain, exercising with elastic resistance bands can help with regaining strength and range of motion. These bands have different levels of resistance and allow you to start slow and progress to higher levels of resistance in a safe and easy way. Your doctor or physical therapist can give you the proper exercises and techniques to help you recover from your shoulder injury.
  • Kinesiology Tape: You may have seen professional athletes with these strips of tape on their bodies, including their shoulders. Tapes such as KT Tape Pro Kinesiology Uncut Therapeutic Tape offers the user strong support for muscles, joints, and tendons without compromising range of motion and comfort. These can be worn for multiple days and can withstand sweat and showering for easy recovery.
  • Stretching: As with any other part of the body, the shoulder benefits from stretching before you return to activities that depends upon your injured shoulder. Everything from shoulder rolls to cross body arm swings/shoulder stretches helps your shoulder stay flexible and strong to avoid re-injury. You can incorporate the Norco Shoulder Pulley for improving your range of motion after an injury. Another great low impact activity that may help is yoga, but before running out to the nearest yoga studio be sure to check with your doctor or physical therapist to determine if you are ready to progress to this step of shoulder injury recovery.

If you shoulder injury is more severe, your doctor or orthopedic surgeon may suggest cortisone or steroid injections. The more serious your injury is more drastic the recovery and rehabilitation may be. Surgery for tendon repairs or even shoulder joint replacement may be the last resort.

 

A shoulder injury is nothing to sneeze at. They can be painful and present a difficult rehabilitation and recovery. Your recovery program should always try the most conservative methods first before progressing to more invasive options. As always, consult your physician or orthopedic surgeon before deciding on your recovery plan. Remember, slow and steady wins the race, so don’t rush anything or you may risk setbacks that make your recovery time longer.

 

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