Swimmer’s shoulder is a term used for a wide range of painful shoulder injuries caused by overuse. Much like stress fractures, swimmer’s shoulder occurs from small, repeated strain, rather than one major incident. Since the shoulder is a very flexible joint, it is surrounded by muscles and ligaments needed to control all the different possible movements. So, if you over-train, use an incorrect technique, get too fatigued, or work your muscles without letting a previous injury heal, your muscles and ligaments can easily get injured.
The first thing you should do with a shoulder injury is RICE—Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It is important to give the injured area plenty of rest and not to return to swimming too quickly. Ice your shoulder for about thirty minutes every two to four hours and keep it elevated, when possible. It may help to sleep as upright as possible by using multiple pillows for support. Try taping your shoulder or wearing a sling to keep your shoulder nice and tight and to keep you from moving your shoulder, provoking your injury. In addition to RICE, you may also want to try anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and relieve some pain (ex. Ibuprofen, Aspirin).
If that doesn’t work…
Next steps would be massage and/or physical therapy to help your shoulder heal. Exercises with a physical therapist will help restore strength to your muscles and massage can help lengthen the scar tissue of the injury to return flexibility. If you are still experiencing pain, joint injections can be a great option. This is a non-surgical treatment that injects a steroid solution right into the injured area of your shoulder. This relaxes the muscles, reducing inflammation and providing pain relief. The minor procedure usually takes less than a half hour, and you are given a local anesthetic for your comfort. These treatments can last up to a year, keeping the swelling down to allow your shoulder time to heal.
If you are interested in joint injections, give the Minneapolis Vein Center a call. We are a patient-centered practice, focusing on how we can help each individual in a compassionate way. Our board-certified, fellowship trained interventional radiologists are extremely knowledgeable and experienced to put you on the path to a pain-free future. So call today at 763-398-8710.