Shoulder injuries arise out of various mishaps and accidents. Car crashes, sports games, even a simple slip and fall could lead to a shoulder injury. While the severity of the injury may vary, a person who injures his or her shoulder should check the symptoms they are experiencing to determine if medical attention is necessary. Based on how many symptoms are present or how severe the symptoms are, a person can make an educated decision on whether or not to seek medical help for a shoulder injury.
Pain is the most common symptom of a shoulder injury. Typically, the pain will be associated with one or more of the symptoms that follow below. Pain, essentially, is the body's mechanism for relaying damage information to the brain. The pain may be dull and steady or sharp and piercing. Typically, the more severe the pain, the more severe the injury. If pain is the only symptom you are experiencing, and if the pain is not severe, treatment could be a simple, over-the-counter pain medication such as Tylenol or ibuprofen.
Swelling occurs when fluid builds up and is trapped under the skin. The result is the skin and the area affected by the injury balloons and appears larger than the surrounding, unaffected areas. Swelling may occur as a result of a shoulder injury. Swelling will be prominent where the injury is the most severe; if the injury is the shoulder joint, typically the joint will become swollen and inflamed. Treatment includes keeping the shoulder elevated and reducing the amount of liquids in a diet.
Decrease in Range of Motion
After an injury to the shoulder, you may notice that moving the shoulder upward or rotating it is very difficult or even impossible. This is known as a decrease in the range of motion in the shoulder. At its simplest definition, a shoulder is a ball joint and should move in a wide variety of ways: up, down, left, right, rotating in a circle, etc. After an injury, the muscles or the tendons that make this movement possible may be torn or separated. If this is the case, you will not be able to move your shoulder as well, if at all. Treatment may include simple rest (for minor injuries) or even surgery (for severe injuries).
Bruising occurs when tiny blood vessels near the surface of the skin are broken. Typically, bruising is the result of a direct blow to the affected area of the skin. Bruises may show up immediately after the injury or after a few hours. They become discolored as the body heals itself. For shoulder injuries, look for any discoloration of the skin around the affected area. The typical spot for a bruise occurring as the result of a shoulder injury is a contusion near the joint of the shoulder. Ice packs and pain medication may help this symptom; a sling may be required.
Numbness is a common symptom in a shoulder injury. The numbness could be a lack of sensation at the point of injury itself or numbness in the hand or arm below the the injury. Treatment of numbness will depend on what is causing the lack of sensation. It could be neurological in nature or it could have something to do with the muscle/tendon damage. A person experiencing numbness should seek medical attention.