A shoulder injury can be surprisingly painful and will definitely impede your mobility. The moment you know you’ve hurt this important joint, follow the advice below.
Do Not Use the Shoulder
This is going to be tough because, as you’ll soon find out, the shoulder is involved in a lot of movement. We’re not talking about just the movement of your arm and hand. Walking without the help of your shoulder coming forward with each stride will take some getting used to.
Obviously, any rigorous activity is out of the question. Again, even if it’s something like soccer where your shoulder wouldn’t seem like an obvious necessity, it’s going to get used a lot and that will make the problem worse.
With most physical activities no longer an option, you’ll have plenty of time to apply ice to the area. Take full advantage of this. Swelling is going to be a huge deterrent to your recovery, so you’ll want to keep it down by applying ice (or some other cold compress) at least 3 times a day for 10 to 20 minutes.
Avoid Heat for the First 48 Hours
Cold will help keep the swelling down, but heat will do the opposite. Therefore, you need to avoid it like the plague for the first two days following your injury.
This includes hot showers. Use the lowest temperature you can tolerate, at least when you’re cleaning the injured area.
Don’t get in any hot tubs or saunas and don’t use heat packs. These three things are often erroneously recommended for their ability to ease the pain, but during the first 48 hours, they’ll actually make matters worse.
Stay Away from Alcohol
For the same reason, you shouldn’t drink any alcohol for these initial two days as it can also make swelling worse.
Wear a Sling
A simple sling can go a long way toward helping your shoulder heal. As we mentioned before, this joint is extremely active during normal activities. Wearing a basic sling will help stabilize and support it, and it’s also useful for limiting inadvertent actions that might cause pain.
If the sling doesn’t seem to be helping after two days even though you’re making every attempt to keep your shoulder still, speak with your doctor.
Elevate It When Not in Use
Whenever you’re icing it, elevate the shoulder, as well. Even when you’re not icing it, try your best to elevate this joint as it will decrease swelling a lot during those first 48 hours.
Begin Heat and Exercise After 72 Hours
Some of you may be able to begin the rehabilitation process as early as two days. Just check to make sure the swelling is completely gone before you do. The majority of people have to wait 72 hours for this opportunity or even a bit longer.
Whatever the case, you can now apply heat to help with the pain and to increase mobility. Light exercise will help with this, as well.
Light exercise means mobility drills. You shouldn’t be putting a lot of weight on the shoulder yet. This is almost certainly going to lead to another injury.
It’s worth noting that some experts believe that switching between heat and cold can help once the swelling is down. Begin with heat to help the muscles ease into movement and, if you feel mild pain later, use some ice to help ensure swelling doesn’t reappear.
Kinesiology tape is fantastic for helping the shoulder heal for a couple of reasons. It will provide a certain amount of structural support and allow fresh blood and lymphatic fluid to get into the tissue and help it heal.
You’ll need four pieces of kinesiology tape to do this. The finished product will have a “U” shape that wraps around the shoulder with the open end facing toward your neck. There will then be a narrower “C” shape with the open end going toward your back that sits horizontally.
Apply one strip along the outside of the deltoid at the front of your arm. It should wrap around the deltoid and end at about the base of your neck. You’ll then do the same with another piece of tape, but it will go along the back. The two ends will touch below the deltoid and almost touch at the base of your neck. Don’t use any pull for this.
The next piece of tape will be attached at the rotator cuff at the front of your shoulder. Then pull it back with 75% to 100% stretch so it goes over your trap and ends up at your lat. The last piece will get no stretch. It will also go along the rotator cuff, but will run directly over it and then back to your lat.
As you can see, you’re most likely going to need help with this. Otherwise, the positioning will probably be too awkward.
Don’t let a shoulder injury go untreated. Follow the above advice to recover as quickly as possible and, if the advice doesn’t give you the results you want, speak to a doctor.