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How do I Treat a Strained Shoulder?

By Troy Holmes
Updated May 17, 2024
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A strained shoulder is an extremely painful injury. This type of injury typically occurs with weightlifting or sudden falls. There are multiple methods of treating a shoulder injury. These include ice, anti-inflammatory medicine, physical therapy, and general rest.

A strained muscle occurs when the muscle fibers and tendons become torn. This type of injury typically requires several weeks to recover. Allowing adequate recovery time is essential for an individual to fully heal from a muscle strain. This will ensure the muscles recover properly before additional damage can occur. General rest is the best remedy for any muscle strain including a strained shoulder.

Ice is one of the best treatments for a strain. An individual can use ice packs on his shoulder for many hours throughout the day. This process reduces inflammation and is considered a good pain management technique. Ice is typically considered better than heat for torn muscles, because it reduces internal swelling.

Anti-inflammatory medicine is special medication designed to reduce pain in the muscles and joints. This medicine can reduce the inflammation that occurs from a shoulder injury. This type of medication has several long-term side effects and should be taken with caution. Most anti-inflammatory medicine can damage the kidneys and liver with prolonged use.

Physical therapy is a formal medical treatment used for healing a strained shoulder. This is normally recommended for serious injuries including post-operation recovery procedures. A physical therapy program typically includes exercise, massage therapy, electronic stimulus, and ice treatment. Most physical therapy programs require six to 12 weeks of treatment for full recovery.

Electronic stimulus is a special form of treatment that is typically available at medical centers. This treatment technique involves electrodes that are attached with small pads to the injured area. The electronic stimulus forces the muscles to flex and relax based on an electronic shock. Most electronic stimulus devices are expensive, which precludes them from general public use.

Deep muscle massage therapy is a form of massage that is designed to stimulate deep muscle tissue. A strained shoulder may require deep muscle massage to help the muscles heal. This type of massage helps remove scar tissue that can occur with muscle tears.

Ultrasound therapy is treatment device that is available within physical therapy facilities. This form of treatment uses a special ultrasound machine that sends electronic waves into the torn muscle fibers. Ultrasound is a deep muscle treatment that can provide pain relief to an individual suffering from a strained shoulder injury.

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Discussion Comments
By fify — On Mar 23, 2013

I heard that glucosamine supplements speed up recovery during shoulder strain rehab. It's something that our body produces naturally, it apparently does wonders for joints. Has anyone tried it?

By fBoyle — On Mar 22, 2013

@burcinc-- Did you ever see a doctor for it?

If you are still experiencing shoulder strain symptoms, you should not be lifting weights. You need to limit your shoulder/arm activity so that it can have the opportunity to heal. Pain relievers are a good idea, it will help with any inflammation.

I highly suggest that you see your doctor. You might be in need of a shoulder immobilizer, you might even be in need of physical therapy.

By burcinc — On Mar 22, 2013

I strained my shoulder several weeks ago doing bench presses. I did take it easy for a few days. I applied ice and took pain relievers. It's doing better now but I still have pain from time to time. I don't think it has completely healed yet. I have a hard time lifting weights.

How long does it usually take to recover from a strained shoulder?

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