Specialized Care for a Separated Shoulder
A shoulder separation is not an injury to the shoulder itself, but rather to one of the sturdy ligaments connecting the collarbone and the top of the shoulder blade. This injury can range from mild (stretching of the ligament) to severe (tearing of the ligament).
A shoulder separation is different than a dislocated shoulder, in which the arm bone pops out of the shoulder joint. If you’ve experienced a separated shoulder in Williamsport, Muncy, or Wellsboro, PA, surgeons at UPMC provide compassionate care to treat your injury and help you recover.
Shoulder Separation Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of a shoulder separation may include:
- Pain in your shoulder area
- Difficulty moving your arm
- A bump at the top of your shoulder
- Weakness in the affected arm
- A popping sound at the time of injury
In cases of severe shoulder separation, you may also feel your fingers get cold or numb, and you may have a more obvious deformity in your shoulder. If this occurs, see a doctor as soon as possible to reduce the risk of more damage to your shoulder and arm.
Shoulder Separation Causes
A shoulder separation is most commonly caused by a direct impact on the shoulder, either by a blow,fall, or on an outstretched hand. People who participate in contact sports or activities with a risk of falls have a higher risk of experiencing a separated shoulder.
Shoulder Separation Treatment at UPMC
Treatment for shoulder separation depends on the severity of the injury. For mild shoulder separations, treatment includes:
- Using a sling to support your arm and rest your shoulder
- Ice packs to reduce swelling
- Over-the-counter pain relievers or stronger prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Physical therapy to stretch and strengthen your shoulder as it heals
- Recovery from a shoulder separation can take anywhere from two to 12 weeks.
For more severe shoulder separations, surgery may be required to repair the affected ligaments and stabilize the joint. You will need to wear a sling for a few weeks following the surgery and may require physical therapy or rehabilitation.
To help prevent a shoulder separation, warm up and stretch before physical activity, wear protective gear such as shoulder pads during contact sports, and take extra precaution in situations with a high risk of falls.
UPMC Orthopaedics provides complete care — from evaluation and diagnosis to treatment and prevention — for a separated shoulder in Williamsport, Wellsboro, and Muncy, PA.