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I Have a Shoulder Injury. Now What?

For the vast majority of shoulder problems, a complete return to function can be achieved with a combination of temporary activity modification (avoiding heavy or repetitive lifting and sustained overhead use of the arms) and a gradual, supervised exercise program.

Shoulder muscles provide stability and control, so most problems can be successfully managed with an exercise program. This may require some early coaching and supervision under the guidance of a physical therapist and may take up to 12 weeks to achieve full effect.

Sometimes medication or an injection may be prescribed to help reduce inflammation and allow for effective exercise. It’s important to stay active and modify work duties when possible.

Will I Need an MRI?

Imaging in the initial months after injury is not necessary in most cases unless you have experienced significant trauma.

Imaging results can sometimes be misleading. Problems identified on the image may have been present long-term and are not really the cause of your pain. Lots of people have “wrinkles” on the outside and inside that are not necessarily harmful.

Will I Need Surgery?

Surgery is usually reserved for people who are still having significant problems after a course of supervised exercise.

How Common Are Shoulder Injuries?

Shoulder injuries are the second most common musculoskeletal problem in workers (first is back pain). The shoulder is made up of four different joints that work together, allowing you to move your arms. As we age, the joints and surrounding tendons undergo a natural aging process that can make them more susceptible to injury. Jobs that require repetitive use of the arms above shoulder height or the handling of heavy loads are particularly stressful to the shoulder.

* You must not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.