The most common and effective treatment of a separated shoulder is rest. The person simply ceases all activities that might put a strain on the shoulder until it recovers. In most cases, the shoulder will get better after a few weeks or months of proper rest.
In some cases, the doctor will put the arm in a sling in order to keep it from moving. Many people will have to stop or cut back on their exercise routine during this period. Others may have to do a different kind of exercise.
A minor separation will usually heal in about a month. A more serious one will take longer to heal. The best piece of advice at this time is to not resume normal activities until the doctor says that it is okay.
One way to alleviate the symptoms of a separated shoulder is with ice. Put a cold pack on the shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes at a time every two or three hours. This should be done during the first day after you get the separation.
If you don’t have your own cold pack, there are a couple of ways that you can make your own. You can put a bag of frozen vegetables on your shoulder. Another method is to fill a plastic bag with ice cubes and wrap it in a towel. You could also wrap one of the cooling devices from a picnic cooler up in a towel and use that.
Physical therapy in the form of proper shoulder exercises can help at this time. Make sure you get a doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor to recommend some really good exercises to you.
You can use over-the-counter pain medications such as Advil, Tylenol or Aleve but be careful with these. Take them before you go to bed or if you need to do any work. If these don’t help with the pain, see the doctor.
Make sure you avoid any activity that could put strain your shoulder until you are feeling better. This includes exercise but it also includes day-to-day activities such as typing and cooking. Remember that repetitive motion can be just as bad as exercise or worse. Try activities and if you feel pain or discomfort, stop them until you feel better.
One suggestion to try is to change your position. If you’re typing, consider standing up while you do it. You can make an improvised stand up computer desk with a milk crate or simply sit your laptop on a counter.
If the problem is more serious, you may need physical therapy or surgery. The doctor will prescribe this. If possible, get examined by a sports medicine specialist or orthopedic surgery. If surgery is recommended, you might ask for a second opinion.
If you can see a specialist for this kind of problem, you should do it. Your general practitioner may not be qualified to diagnose this kind of problem. Ask for a referral if necessary. Something you should definitely consider is physical therapy even if it isn’t prescribed. A good physical therapist can help you learn how to avoid it in the future and recover faster.
In more serious cases, you will need to get surgery which will be followed by physical therapy. This can take several months to recover but most people recover from this kind of injury and end up leading normal lives.
There are ways to prevent separated shoulders. The first is with proper strength training. This should be based on the recommendations of a trainer or physical therapist. If you don’t have a trainer, it might be a good idea to see one. You don’t need to have regular sessions with one but a trainer can give a regimen designed to prevent one.
You should also use common sense when you work out. If you feel any sort of pain, weakness, or discomfort in your shoulder or arm, stop working out. If a particular exercise makes the pain or discomfort worse, don’t do it. Change your workout to something else.
Talk to a professional trainer to see what other exercises you can do that will give you the same workout without aggravating your shoulder. Make sure you exercise and stretch your shoulder muscles regularly.
Avoid sitting for long periods of time and try to limit repetitive motion such as typing if you can. Try stretching and changing your routine to get more activity. Short fast workouts like those on Yuri Elkaim’s Fitter U Fitness can help. So can getting up to stretch and switching to a standing computer desk.
Working out with a Separated Shoulder
The main key to working out with a separated shoulder is to avoid straining it. Ask a physical therapist or personal trainer for exercises that will not put too much stress on the shoulder. Make sure you stretch the arm and shoulder but don’t put a lot of stress upon it.
Something you must be really careful about is falls because they can make the situation much worse. This means you might have to limit activity such as jogging, rock climbing or bicycling that can expose you to falling.
Definitely stop skiing and snowboarding while you’re recovering from a dislocated shoulder because you will fall in those sports. The same goes for water sports like surfing and water skiing. You should also consider padding your shoulder if your work or sports put you in danger of falling.
Make sure you stop anything such as contact sports, weightlifting, fight training or heavy lifting that can cause a lot of strain. If you swim, you should climb down directly into the water instead of diving in. You should also limit activities around the house such as chopping firewood and recreational activities such as motorcycle riding that can expose you to falls.
The main way to prevent separated shoulders is to be aware of them. Make sure you are looking out for shoulder pain and trying to prevent it.