Shoulder Problems and Injuries
Shoulder Problems and Injuries
First aid for a suspected broken bone
- Control bleeding . Apply steady, direct
pressure for a full 15 minutes. Use a clock—15 minutes can seem like a long
time. Resist the urge to peek after a few minutes to see whether bleeding has
stopped. If blood soaks through the cloth, apply another one without lifting
the first. If there is an object in the wound, apply pressure around the
object, not directly over it.
- Remove all bracelets or rings. It may
be difficult to remove the jewelry after swelling develops. See a picture of how
to remove a ring that won't come off easily.
- Use a
sling to support an injured shoulder.
- If a
bone is sticking out of the skin, do not try to push it back into the skin.
Cover the area with a clean bandage.
If a cast or splint is applied, it is
important to keep it dry and to try to move the uninjured parts of your limb as
normally as possible to help maintain muscle strength and tone. Your doctor
will give you instructions on how to
care for your cast or splint.
Home treatment for minor symptoms
Home treatment may
help relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness.
If your injury does
not require an evaluation by a doctor, you may be able to use home treatment to
help relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness. It may take up to 6 weeks or longer
before your symptoms are gone. Use
rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) for home
- Rest and protect an
injured or sore area. Stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may
be causing your pain or soreness.
- Ice will
reduce pain and swelling. Apply
ice or cold packs immediately to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply the ice
or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day.
- For the first 48 hours after an injury,
avoid things that might increase swelling, such as hot showers, hot tubs, hot
packs, or alcoholic beverages.
- After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is
heat and begin
gentle exercise with the aid of moist heat to help
restore and maintain flexibility. Some experts recommend alternating between
heat and cold treatments.
- Compression, or wrapping
the injured or sore area with an elastic bandage (such as an Ace wrap), will
help decrease swelling. Wear a
sling for the first 48 hours after the injury, if it
makes you more comfortable and supports your shoulder. If you feel you need to
use a sling for more than 48 hours, discuss your symptoms with your
- Elevate the injured or sore area on
pillows while applying ice and anytime you are sitting or lying down. Try to
keep the area at or above the level of your heart to help minimize
- Gently massage or rub the area to relieve pain and
encourage blood flow. Do not massage the injured area if it causes
- Try the pendulum swing exercise .
- Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. Smoking slows
healing because it decreases blood supply and delays tissue repair. For more
information, see the topic
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
| Try a nonprescription
medicine to help treat your fever or pain:|
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
| Be sure to follow these
safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:|
- Carefully read and follow all directions
on the medicine bottle and box.
- Do not take more than the
- Do not take a medicine if you have had an
allergic reaction to it in the past.
you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take
- If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other
than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
- Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
- Signs of infection or inflammation
- Numbness; tingling; or cool, pale skin
- Shoulder range of motion or strength in the joint
decreases or does not return to normal.
- Symptoms do not improve
despite home treatment.
- Symptoms become more severe or
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
August 23, 2011
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