Like any other fracture, a shoulder injury might require immobilization to heal properly. The shoulder is one of the most flexible joints in the body, but that also makes it difficult to heal. To restore full function, you and your doctor must work together to determine how much damage was done, and whether you need surgery and/or immobilization.
At Performance Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, with locations in Wall Township, Toms River, and Shrewsbury, New Jersey, Dr. David B. Dickerson can accurately diagnose the cause of shoulder pain and instability and provide you with the specialized care you need.
How shoulder immobilization works
Similar to a cast, immobilization holds your shoulder in a neutral position so it can heal. Plaster is too impractical to be used on the shoulder, so a specialized sling is used instead. While it might be cumbersome and uncomfortable, if you immobilize the shoulder promptly and properly, you can effectively heal most injuries without surgery.
As long as the bones are in place, shoulder dislocations and fractures can be treated with immobilization. However, tendon and ligament injuries are a bit more difficult to heal, and might require surgery to fully recover. Your doctor will perform an examination and run diagnostic tests to assess the damage and decide what’s needed.
It can take some time until the sling is ready to come off; mild injuries can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks to heal, and you still need to rehabilitate your shoulder afterwards.
Restoring full function
Solutions for shoulder pain depend on the type and severity of the injury, but nearly every treatment plan will likely include immobilization and rehabilitation. While immobilization keeps your shoulder still to facilitate healing, rehabilitation helps you rebuild strength once the healing is done.
It’s important to condition your shoulder, especially after an injury. After a long period of disuse, you’re at risk of re-injuring yourself if you’re not careful. For example, suddenly lifting your arm above your head might lead to impingement, or a pinched tendon.
This is where occupational and physical therapists come in. They will help you find ways to take stress off your shoulder in your day-to-day life, and guide you through the rehabilitation process.
As long as you keep your sling on and continue doing your exercises once it’s off, the outlook for your recovery is good.
Recently dislocated your shoulder? Get in touch with the team at Performance Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine by calling 732-691-4898, or visit the contact page for more information.