How to Avoid a Shoulder Sprain

A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. When you think of a sprain, an ankle sprain might be the first injury that comes to mind. But did you know that nearly any ligament in your body can be sprained?

Your shoulder contains ligaments that connect your bones and help stabilize the joint. But sudden impact or overuse can stretch or tear a ligament, leaving you with a shoulder sprain.

Shoulder sprains are painful, and they can keep you from participating in your favorite activities. But suffering a shoulder sprain isn’t inevitable. At Upper Extremity Specialists, of Synergy Orthopedic Specialists Medical Group, Kristopher Downing, MD, Daniel Brereton, DO, and our team offer expert shoulder care and injury-prevention tips.

The anatomy of a shoulder sprain

Ligaments are strong bands of connective tissue that hold bones together. There are a number of ligaments in the shoulder, and they, along with the rotator cuff, help keep your arm in place and allow you to lift and rotate your arm in the shoulder joint.

The most common place for a ligament stretch or tear in the shoulder involves the acromioclavicular joint. This joint connects your clavicle, or collarbone, to your shoulder blade.

The most common symptom of a shoulder sprain is pain, but sprains and the symptoms you experience can vary in severity. You might also notice bruising, swelling, tenderness, or restricted range of motion. 

Protecting your shoulders from injury

Shoulder sprains are common among children, teens, and adults who play sports. Contact sports and those that require a lot of arm movements can lead to overuse, strains, and sprains. Some sports that may put you at an increased risk of spraining your shoulder include:

Although playing sports is a leading cause of shoulder sprains, you don’t have to be an athlete to sprain your shoulder. Any type of repetitive activity that requires lifting your arms, from painting walls to gardening, can lead to a shoulder sprain.

To protect your shoulders from injury, warm up and stretch before participating in physical activities. Don’t overdo it, and rest when your body feels tired. If you’re an athlete, wearing protective equipment can reduce your risk of suffering sprains. 

Avoiding reinjury after a shoulder sprain

Accidents happen, and it’s possible to suffer a shoulder sprain despite taking all the right precautions. If you sprain your shoulder, seek care from an orthopedic or sports medicine specialist as soon as possible.

Up to 90% of people with acromioclavicular sprains regain full range of motion with no pain by following a professional treatment plan. Participating in physical therapy and shoulder strengthening exercises can reduce your risk of spraining your shoulder again in the future. 

To get comprehensive shoulder and sports medicine care, book an appointment online or over the phone with Upper Extremity Specialists today.

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