Shoulder Injury

Is this your symptom?

  • Injuries to the shoulder
  • Injuries to a bone, muscle, joint, or ligament
  • Excluded: muscle pain caused by too much exercise or work (overuse). Covered in Shoulder Pain care guide.

Types of Shoulder Injuries

  • Fractures. Fractures are broken bones. A broken collar bone is one of the most common broken bones. The collar bone will be tender to touch and may look misshapen. You cannot raise the arm upward. Other fractures can occur in the upper arm and shoulder blade.
  • Dislocations. This happens when a bone is pulled out of a its joint socket. Dislocated shoulders are common sports injuries and can also be caused by falls.
  • Sprains. Sprains are stretches and tears of ligaments.
  • Strains. Strains are stretches and tears of muscles.
  • Muscle Overuse. Muscle pain can occur without an injury. There is no fall or direct blow. Muscle overuse is from hard work or sports (such as a sore shoulder).
  • Muscle bruise from a direct blow
  • Bone bruise from a direct blow
  • Skin Injury. Examples are a cut, scratch, scrape or bruise. All are common with arm injuries.

Pain Scale

  • Mild: you feel some pain, but it does not keep you from your normal activities. Work, chores and sleep are not changed.
  • Moderate: the pain keeps you from doing some normal activities. It may wake you up from sleep.
  • Severe: the pain is very bad. It keeps you from doing all normal activities.

When to Call for Shoulder Injury

Call 911 Now

  • The shoulder has been crushed
  • Major bleeding that can't be stopped
  • Bone or object is sticking through the skin
  • You think you have a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Can't move the shoulder, elbow, wrist or fingers normally
  • Skin is cut and No past tetanus shots
  • Severe swelling
  • Severe pain
  • Collarbone is painful and can't raise arm over head
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Very large bruise or swelling
  • Increasing redness, pain or swelling around a wound
  • Pain not starting to get better after 3 days
  • Dirty cut or hard to clean and no tetanus shot for more than 5 years
  • Clean cut and no tetanus shot for more than 10 years
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Contact Doctor During Office Hours

  • Injury limits work, sports, or school
  • Pain lasts more than 2 weeks
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Sore muscle or bruise from direct blow
  • Minor shoulder injury

Advice for Minor Shoulder Injuries

  1. What You Should Know About Minor Shoulder Injuries:
    • During activites and sports, muscles and bones can get bruised.
    • Muscles get stretched.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, take an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
    • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil). Ibuprofen works well for this type of pain.
    • Use as needed, but do not take more than the maximum recommended dosage as stated on the package.
    • If you are not sure what to take, ask a pharmacist.
  3. Small Cut or Scrape Treatment:
    • Use direct pressure to stop any bleeding. Do this for 10 minutes or until bleeding stops.
    • Wash the wound with soap and water for 5 minutes. Try to rinse the cut under running water.
    • Gently scrub out any dirt with a washcloth.
    • Use an antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin). No prescription is needed. Then, cover it with a bandage. Change daily.
  4. Cold Pack for Pain:
    • For pain or swelling, use a cold pack. You can also use ice wrapped in a wet cloth.
    • Put it on the sore muscles for 20 minutes.
    • Repeat 4 times on the first day, then as needed.
    • Reason: Helps the pain and helps stop any bleeding.
    • Caution: Avoid frostbite by wrapping the ice pack. Do not put ice directly onto the skin.
  5. Use Heat After 48 Hours:
    • If pain lasts more than 2 days, put heat on the sore muscle.
    • Use a heat pack, heating pad or warm wet washcloth.
    • Do this for 10 minutes, then as needed.
    • Reason: increase blood flow and improve healing.
    • Caution: avoid burns by wrapping the heat pack. Do not put it directly onto the skin.
  6. Rest the Arm:
    • Rest the injured arm as much as possible for 48 hours, but keep the fingers moving gently if you can.
    • Keep the arm and hand raised on a pillow beside you or held across your chest to help limit swelling.
  7. What to Expect:
    • Pain and swelling most often peak on day 2 or 3.
    • Swelling should be gone by 7 days.
    • Pain may take 2 weeks to fully go away.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Pain becomes severe
    • Pain is not better after 3 days
    • Pain lasts more than 2 weeks
    • You think you need to be seen
    • Your symptoms get worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.


Last Reviewed: 10/11/2023 1:00:53 AM
Last Updated: 4/13/2023 1:00:45 AM

Copyright 2023 Schmitt Decision Logic LLC.

<strong>First Aid - Sling - How to Put On</strong> <p>To put on a sling you first need to have a triangular bandage. Many first aid kits have a triangular bandage.</p><ul><li>Find the two ends of the triangle that are farthest apart. These are the ends that you will tie around the neck.</li><li>Lay the arm down the middle of the triangle.</li><li>Take the two ends of the triangle that are farthest apart and tie them behind the neck. (a square knot is best, but any knot will do).</li></ul>
First Aid - Sling - How to Put On

To put on a sling you first need to have a triangular bandage. Many first aid kits have a triangular bandage.

  • Find the two ends of the triangle that are farthest apart. These are the ends that you will tie around the neck.
  • Lay the arm down the middle of the triangle.
  • Take the two ends of the triangle that are farthest apart and tie them behind the neck. (a square knot is best, but any knot will do).
<strong>Bruise on Shoulder (4 Days Old)</strong> <p>This bruise is four days old.</p><p>Bruises (contusions) result from a direct blow or a crushing injury; there is bleeding into the skin from damaged blood vessels without an overlying cut or abrasion. </p><p>  </p>
Bruise on Shoulder (4 Days Old)

This bruise is four days old.

Bruises (contusions) result from a direct blow or a crushing injury; there is bleeding into the skin from damaged blood vessels without an overlying cut or abrasion.

<strong>First Aid - Bleeding Arm</strong> <ul><li>Apply direct pressure to the entire wound with a sterile gauze dressing or a clean cloth.</li></ul>
First Aid - Bleeding Arm
  • Apply direct pressure to the entire wound with a sterile gauze dressing or a clean cloth.
<strong>First Aid - R.I.C.E.</strong> <p>RICE is an acronym for how to take care of a sprain, strain, or bruise. There are four things you should do:</p><ul><li><strong>REST</strong> the injured part of your body for 24 hours. Can return to normal activity after 24 hours of rest if the activity does not cause severe pain.</li><li>Apply a cold pack or an <strong>ICE</strong> bag (wrapped in a moist towel) to the area for 20 minutes. Repeat in 1 hour, then every 4 hours while awake.</li><li>Apply <strong>COMPRESSION</strong> by wrapping the injured part with a snug, elastic bandage for 48 hours. If numbness, tingling, or increased pain occurs in the injured part, the bandage may be too tight. Loosen the bandage wrap.</li><li>Keep the injured part of the body <strong>ELEVATED</strong> and at rest for 24 hours. For example, for an injured ankle, place that leg up on a pillow and stay off the feet as much as possible.</li></ul>
First Aid - R.I.C.E.

RICE is an acronym for how to take care of a sprain, strain, or bruise. There are four things you should do:

  • REST the injured part of your body for 24 hours. Can return to normal activity after 24 hours of rest if the activity does not cause severe pain.
  • Apply a cold pack or an ICE bag (wrapped in a moist towel) to the area for 20 minutes. Repeat in 1 hour, then every 4 hours while awake.
  • Apply COMPRESSION by wrapping the injured part with a snug, elastic bandage for 48 hours. If numbness, tingling, or increased pain occurs in the injured part, the bandage may be too tight. Loosen the bandage wrap.
  • Keep the injured part of the body ELEVATED and at rest for 24 hours. For example, for an injured ankle, place that leg up on a pillow and stay off the feet as much as possible.

Ready to try something new?

 
back to top