Try these steps to help ease discomfort and encourage healing after being treated for a dislocated shoulder:
- Rest your shoulder. Don't repeat the specific action that caused your shoulder to dislocate, and try to avoid painful movements. Limit heavy lifting or overhead activity until your shoulder starts to feel better.
- Apply ice and heat. Putting ice on your shoulder helps reduce inflammation and pain. Use a cold pack, a bag of frozen vegetables or a towel filled with ice cubes for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Do this every couple of hours the first day or two. After about two or three days, when the pain and inflammation have improved, hot packs or a heating pad may help relax tight and sore muscles. Limit heat applications to 20 minutes.
- Take pain relievers. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), may help relieve pain. Follow label directions and stop taking the drugs when the pain improves.
- Maintain the range of motion of your shoulder. After one or two days, do some gentle exercises as directed by your doctor or physical therapist to help maintain your shoulder's range of motion. Total inactivity can cause stiff joints. In addition, favoring your shoulder for a long period of time can lead to frozen shoulder, a condition in which your shoulder becomes so stiff you can barely move it.
Once your injury heals and you have good range of motion in your shoulder, continue exercising. Daily shoulder stretches and a balanced shoulder-strengthening program can help prevent a recurrence of dislocation. Your doctor or a physical therapist can help you plan an appropriate exercise routine.
Aug. 31, 2011
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