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Shoulder Injuries: How Physical Therapy Can Help

If you are active, you know how much your shoulders can take a beating. Throw in a few too many bench presses and pull-ups, the stress of carrying a backpack full of textbooks, or just spending too much time hunching over at your desk it is no wonder that acute shoulder injuries are so common. 

Fortunately, there are an abundance of ways to prevent further damage and speed up recovery from a shoulder injury. This article covers everything you need to know about these painful injuries; including what they are, their causes, and how physical therapy can help after they occur.

What Is a Shoulder Injury?

As with any injury, it is important to define what a shoulder injury is in order to understand how to prevent it and what treatment is necessary. A shoulder injury is any pain or damage to the muscles, tendons, cartilage, ligaments, or bones within the shoulder joint. 

If you have ever suffered an acute shoulder injury, you can relate to how painful and debilitating this can be. Understanding the different types can help you prevent them in the future. 

Impingement syndrome: This is caused by the shoulder tendons and joint lining being pinched or squeezed between the bones and muscles of the shoulder, causing inflammation and pain. It is common in people who do a lot of overhead activities, such as swimming, tennis, baseball, and weightlifting as well as those who spend too much time with their arms over their heads.

Rotator cuff tear(s): The muscles and tendons that help stabilize and move the shoulder are known as the rotator cuff. A rotator cuff tear occurs when one or more of the muscles or tendons are ripped or severed from the bone, often as a result of an injury or overuse. 

Shoulder instability: The joint may be unstable or have been previously dislocated, which means it can easily become dislocated again.

AC joint sprain: This joint is located between the scapula and the collarbone, and it is often injured in car accidents.

Bicipital tendinitis: This is caused by the overuse of the muscles connected to the biceps muscle, which is located in the upper arm.

Subluxation or dislocation of the shoulder: The shoulder joint can become dislocated when it is pulled out of its socket, or it can subluxate when the joint surfaces are not lined up properly but are still in the socket. 

Frozen shoulder: This can develop as a result of a shoulder injury, surgery, or a medical condition. A frozen shoulder is caused by inflammation of the surrounding tissues and muscles, which may limit motion and cause pain. 

Overuse syndromes: Overuse syndromes can occur when certain joints are used too much or improperly, often over a period of time. This can cause pain, swelling, and decreased mobility in these joints.

Impingement of the nerves or blood vessels in the shoulder: These can be compressed or irritated due to muscle spasms or misalignment of the shoulder joint.

Post-operative shoulder pain: This is pain that occurs after surgery on the shoulder joint, such as rotator cuff repair or AC joint surgery. 

Post-traumatic shoulder pain: This type of pain can follow a shoulder injury such as a sprain, dislocation, or fracture.

Shoulder Injuries for Various Ages

A shoulder injury can affect you at any age. For example, children and adolescents who participate in football, wrestling, or other contact sports are at risk of a shoulder dislocation or fracture. Swimmers should be aware of the risks of impingement syndrome, rotator cuff tears, and rotavirus.

Athletes and people who participate in activities that require repetitive shoulder motion, such as golfers and baseball players, are at risk of a shoulder tear and people who work in jobs that require frequent overhead motions such as computer programmers, dental hygienists, and cashiers are at risk of impingement syndrome.

How AmeriCare Physical Therapy Can Help With Shoulder Injuries

At AmeriCare, our physical therapists are experts in treating all types of shoulder injuries. Our physical therapists are trained in the biomechanics of the shoulder and the anatomy of joints, muscles, ligaments, and bones. They can customize your treatment plan based on your unique injury and determine the best ways to help you heal, regain strength, and return to normal activities without pain. 

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