How do I Treat a Torn Shoulder?

T. Webster
T. Webster
An ice pack, which can help with pain from a torn shoulder.
An ice pack, which can help with pain from a torn shoulder.

Torn shoulder treatments can vary depending on the specific cause of the tear and its severity. Ways to treat a torn shoulder can range from resting the affected arm to having it surgically repaired. Tears can involve the muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding the shoulder.

Generally, the symptoms of torn shoulder are pain in the shoulder and arm, shoulder weakness or tenderness and a loss of range of movement. There also can be a sensation that the shoulder is catching or not moving smoothly. If pain is present, it might occur only during certain activities or movements.

Baseball pitchers are prone to shoulder injuries.
Baseball pitchers are prone to shoulder injuries.

You can suffer a torn shoulder in various ways, such as by falling on your arm, by being in a car accident, by lifting something extremely heavy or through arm repetition that happens with playing tennis or pitching a baseball, for example. Consulting a doctor is the first step to treat a torn shoulder. This will include a physical exam to measure pain or loss of motion. An X-ray likely will be taken, and additional tests might be ordered to further assess the injury.

Tennis players are prone to suffer torn shoulders.
Tennis players are prone to suffer torn shoulders.

If the injury is not serious, you can treat a torn shoulder by a combination of resting the shoulder, applying ice packs, gently exercising it and taking anti-inflammatory drugs. Your arm also might be put in a sling so that movement is limited and the shoulder can heal. Correcting your posture so your shoulders and head are in alignment also can help. In some cases, physical therapy might be necessary.

A torn shoulder will require rest.
A torn shoulder will require rest.

You will need to treat a severe shoulder tear right away. The first thing you can do to treat a shoulder injury is to apply an ice pack immediately in order to help avoid swelling. Pain normally will be extreme, and an immediate trip to the hospital for X-rays and other tests likely will be needed.

If your injury has damaged your entire shoulder, you probably will need surgery. The surgery is considered complex and can take about four hours to complete. Recovery can take from several weeks to about three months. You can help prevent another injury by doing exercises to help increase your shoulder strength.

A sling may be used to treat a torn shoulder.
A sling may be used to treat a torn shoulder.

Shoulder pain should not be taken lightly. Shoulder pain sometimes can indicate a heart condition that causes pain to radiate to the shoulder. If you are lucky, however, the only thing you will need to do to treat a torn shoulder is allow the muscles time to heal. It is always best to consult with a physician to determine the best way to treat a torn shoulder.

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    • An ice pack, which can help with pain from a torn shoulder.
      By: Marc Dietrich
      An ice pack, which can help with pain from a torn shoulder.
    • Baseball pitchers are prone to shoulder injuries.
      By: cfarmer
      Baseball pitchers are prone to shoulder injuries.
    • Tennis players are prone to suffer torn shoulders.
      By: Galina Barskaya
      Tennis players are prone to suffer torn shoulders.
    • A torn shoulder will require rest.
      By: Syda Productions
      A torn shoulder will require rest.
    • A sling may be used to treat a torn shoulder.
      By: waxart
      A sling may be used to treat a torn shoulder.
    • A physical therapist may be needed to help treat a torn shoulder.
      By: alexp3
      A physical therapist may be needed to help treat a torn shoulder.
    • An X-ray will be necessary for a torn shoulder.
      By: Distinctive Images
      An X-ray will be necessary for a torn shoulder.