Understanding your shoulder injury
- Shoulder disorders are a common musculoskeletal condition.
- Studies have noted that supervised exercises are equally as effective as surgery in the majority of shoulder cases.
- Treatment, such as physiotherapy or chiropractic, is the treatment of choice for a large number of shoulder disorders.
In most cases, surgery is needed only when all other treatments have not resulted in improvement in your function and pain levels. There are a few situations where immediate surgery is required. After an injury the most important person in your recovery is you!
It is important to understand your injury and what you can do to help your recovery so you can get back to work and to doing the things you enjoy.
With most shoulder injuries the pain will settle down with time (usually days to weeks) as the body heals. Some pain may continue and remember that hurt doesn't always equal harm. As you recover, you may be able to continue with activities at home and work.
How you can help your recovery
Maintaining good physical health and a positive attitude is important to your recovery and overall well-being! Most shoulder injuries will get better with time. Here are some tips for you to consider:
- Set goals for yourself to progress your activity each day.
- Activities and movements that do not bring on your pain are usually helpful for your recovery.
- Planning and pacing your activities is also helpful. Change the activity you are doing and use short breaks as needed.
- Walking is a great exercise for your lungs and heart and is also important to your bone and muscle health. Good circulation can help with the healing process.
Limit bed rest
- Prolonged rest and being inactive may delay your recovery and put you at risk for further injuries.
- Putting a pillow under your arm when you are sleeping is sometimes helpful. Some people find lying on their uninjured side with their injured shoulder up is also comfortable when supported with a pillow.
- Keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed and try to keep your shoulders in line under your ears. Good posture is important to help manage your pain, especially if your symptoms came on slowly.
Healthy habits are important for recovery
- Eating a well-balanced diet can help provide the body with the nutrients and fuel to help with your recovery and overall health and well-being.
- Getting a good restful sleep is also important.
- Coping with an injury can be of concern, but in most cases you will get better with time.
- Keep a positive attitude that you will get better and that your injury will heal!
Working with a shoulder injury
- Staying at work when possible is best for your recovery. Studies show that people get better while at work.
- Work with your employer and health care provider to identify the tasks and duties that you can do safely while you are recovering. Be open to trying different activities and duties during your recovery.
- Many activities can be performed with your elbows close to your body and your arms by your side. You may be asked to be careful with reaching and doing activities over head.
- If you are not sure of the duties and tasks you should be doing, discuss with your health care provider.
What to expect from your health care provider
- You can expect your health care provider to give you information on shoulder injuries.
- Your health care provider may ask you to use a sling. This is usually for a short period of time, one or two weeks. Wearing a sling for too long may cause your shoulder to become stiff and your muscles to weaken.
- If you have been told to temporarily not move your shoulder by your health care provider, remember to keep moving your fingers, wrist and elbow to promote healthy circulation on the injured side.
- Your physician may prescribe medications for you to help with your recovery and pain.
- If you have any concerns about your injury, talk to your health care provider.
DISCLAIMER: This information is not meant to take the place of consultation with your health care provider or the services you may need to manage your injury. Please see your health care provider about any personal health concerns.