Like many other orthopedic injuries, there is not a quick fix for most shoulder injuries. The treatments vary depending on the specific injury, but there are some common approaches to treating many shoulder injuries.
In general, your provider may suggest wearing a sling or brace to keep your shoulder in place, along with resting your shoulder and icing the injury three or four times per day. After a period of rest, exercise may also be used to improve the range of motion, strengthen muscles, and prevent re-injury.
There are also specific treatments based on the type of injury. For example, to treat a dislocated shoulder, your provider will perform a procedure to place the ball of the upper arm back into the socket. Once a shoulder is dislocated, it is more likely to happen again. This is particularly common in young, active people. If the dislocation injures tissues around the shoulder or repeated dislocations are experienced, surgery may be necessary. If less invasive treatments are not effective, a shoulder separation may also require surgery.
Tendinitis and bursitis are often treated with NSAIDS, medicines that can reduce pain and swelling. Ultrasound may also be used to warm deep tissues and improve blood flow. Along with gentle stretching exercises, corticosteroids may be injected into the shoulder if significant improvement is not seen in the first few weeks. Finally, surgery may be required if the shoulder does not improve after six to twelve months.
Treatment for a torn rotator cuff depends on the age and general health of the patient and the severity of the injury. The application of heat or cold to the sore area may provide some relief, along with medications that reduce pain and swelling. In some cases, electrical stimulation of muscles and nerves, ultrasound treatments, and corticosteroid injections can be used to treat a torn rotator cuff. After a period of rest, exercise may be suggested to improve range-of-motion, strength, and function. Ultimately, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage.