A shoulder sprain is damage to the shoulder ligaments or capsule which support the glenohumeral or shoulder joint. This is caused by a stretching of the fibers or partial to full tears of the ligaments or joint capsule, like if the arm is pulled backwards. The shoulder will feel painful and tender, often with swelling, which can be eased by rest and putting the arm in a sling.
Symptoms of a shoulder Sprain
Shoulder sprain symptoms will vary depending on how bad the injury is and can range from mild to very severe and will include pain in the shoulder, usually at the front of the joint. There will be tenderness when pressing in on the area of injury. Rapid swelling may appear and the shoulder will be painful to move. Severe shoulder sprains may result in instability of the shoulder joint.
Causes of a shoulder sprain
A sprained shoulder is caused by a force on the arm which stretches the shoulder ligaments. Usually, this involves the arm being forced backward when it is raised to 90 degrees at the shoulder. This causes stretching or tearing of the ligaments or capsule at the front of the shoulder.
This is not a particularly common injury as the ligaments of the shoulder are very strong. Also, the muscles at the front of the shoulder, such as the pectorals are more likely to be injured first.
Shoulder sprain treatment
Rest the arm. A sling may be useful to take the weight off the shoulder. Apply ice or cold therapy products to ease the pain, bleeding, swelling and inflammation. See a sports injury specialist who can assess the injury. A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication and refer for investigations such as MRI scans if necessary.
A professional therapist may use electrotherapy treatments such as ultrasound or laser to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation as well as advise on a rehabilitation program to regain full movement and strength, once the shoulder is pain-free.