What can I do About Shoulder Weakness?

Malcolm Tatum

Shoulder weakness can occur for a number of reasons. In some cases, the health issue is caused by an injury sustained in an accident. The weakness may be due to an ongoing problem such as osteoporosis or arthritis. Fortunately, there are several effective tools that can help alleviate pain and also help restore some degree of mobility and strength to the weakened shoulder.

Surgery is typically followed by physical therapy to strengthen the arm and shoulder.
Surgery is typically followed by physical therapy to strengthen the arm and shoulder.

In situations where the shoulder weakness is due to injury, the first step is to make sure the shoulder is placed back into proper alignment. Doctors can usually set a shoulder that has been dislocated with relative ease. Once the shoulder is back in place, a combination of medication to ease the pain and shoulder exercises conducted under the direction of a physical therapist will allow the individual to gradually recapture a full range of motion.

Exercises under the guidance of a physical therapist can help a shoulder regain full range of motion.
Exercises under the guidance of a physical therapist can help a shoulder regain full range of motion.

There are also situations where the shoulder weakness is due to some sort of damage to the muscles around the rotator cuff. As long as the cuff itself is not damaged, the main issues are likely to revolve around the inflammation that has set up in the shoulder. In severe cases, the swelling caused by the inflammation is likely to render movement almost impossible. Medication or even steroid injections to calm the swelling and rid the cuff muscles of the inflammation will make it easier to use simple shoulder stretches to gradually overcome the shoulder weakness.

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Dealing with shoulder weakness depends on the cause.
Dealing with shoulder weakness depends on the cause.

In the event that the rotator cuff is damaged, it may be necessary to undergo surgery before it is possible to address the shoulder weakness. Once the patient has healed sufficiently to begin shoulder rehab, it is possible to use simple exercises to increase the range of motion of the shoulder itself, which leads to incrementally gaining strength that allows the shoulder to support arm movement. Follow up physical therapy begins while the patient is still in the hospital and will usually continue for several weeks via an outpatient rehabilitation program.

Push-ups can strengthen and tone the deltoids, or shoulder muscles, as well as the chest and arms.
Push-ups can strengthen and tone the deltoids, or shoulder muscles, as well as the chest and arms.

Along with shoulder injury, the origin of the shoulder weakness may be arthritis or a similar debilitating physical ailment. When this is the case, there is the need to effectively manage shoulder pain while also using various types of shoulder strengthening exercises to minimize the incidence of stiffness and maintain as much free movement of the shoulder as possible. These exercises often involve repetitive movements that include rotating the arm, raising and lowering the shoulder, and lifting exercises that involve the arm and shoulder in a synchronized set of movements.

Shoulder weakness is often helped by the application of heat or cold directly to the shoulder itself. Depending on the circumstances, a doctor may recommend the use of a heating pad to ease pain and maintain mobility, as well as recommend the use of ice packs to help with any swelling or inflammation caused by overexertion. Ask your doctor for a specific set of exercises that are right for your particular situation, and also get instructions on when to use heat or cold to manage the pain. Following those guidelines can allow you to minimize shoulder weakness and maintain most if not all of the normal strength of your shoulder.

Physical therapists will often recommend exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles after injury.
Physical therapists will often recommend exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles after injury.

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