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How to Manage Pain From Your Ligament Tear

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How to Manage Pain From Your Ligament Tear

A group of seven ligaments reinforces each shoulder capsule, helping to keep the joint stable while permitting a full range of motion. A shoulder sprain stretches and tears ligament fibers, causing pain and mobility limitations.

No joint in your body compares with the shoulder when it comes to range of motion. While rotator cuff injuries involving muscles and tendons are well-known, shoulder sprains involving ligaments happen as well. Like an ankle sprain, ligaments in the shoulder become stretched and torn when a motion forces the joint beyond its normal range. 

Choose shoulder surgeon Scott Ellsworth, MD, located in Leawood, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, for any shoulder-related condition, including sprains and ligament tears. Treatment for most ligament sprains is non-surgical, so you’ll benefit from conservative care under Dr. Ellsworth’s supervision. As with many injuries, your first concern with a ligament tear is pain. 

Causes of shoulder sprains

Ligament damage in the shoulder isn’t a common injury since the seven ligaments that connect bone to bone are strong and well-protected by shoulder muscles. But force on the front of the shoulder pushing can cause ligaments to overextend. Contact sports, falls that land directly on a shoulder, or car accidents could provide the amount of force needed for a ligament injury. A blow to the shoulder blade may also cause ligament damage. 

Signs and symptoms of shoulder sprain

The most common symptom of a ligament tear is pain in the front of the shoulder. Pressing gently at the site of the injury reveals tenderness, and the joint typically swells. You’ll likely notice limits to the range of movement of the shoulder. In severe cases, shoulder movement may feel unstable. Dr. Ellsworth can usually diagnose a shoulder sprain during an examination, but in some cases, a magnetic resonance image (MRI) can help gauge the severity and specific location of the damage. 

How to manage pain from your ligament tear

Immediately after the injury, care for your shoulder using the RICE protocol. 

  • Rest: immobilize the injured arm in a comfortable position and avoid movement
  • Ice: apply cold packs at 15-minute intervals every two hours for the first day or two after the injury
  • Compression: wrap a snug elastic bandage around your shoulder to reduce swelling and aid immobilization
  • Elevation: your shoulder is above your heart while you’re upright, so rest and sleep in a propped-up position

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can help to manage pain and reduce swelling. Use these steps to care for your shoulder until you can visit Dr. Ellsworth. 

Additional treatment

Follow Dr. Ellsworth’s instructions for care after your appointment. As a shoulder pain specialist, Dr. Ellsworth recommends additional treatments as needed. These can include: 

  • Prescription medications for pain and inflammation
  • Physical therapy to gently strengthen the shoulder and return its range of motion
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to speed natural recovery 

You may also benefit from muscle relaxants, steroid injections, or other treatments. 

Contact the most convenient of our offices in Leawood, Kansas, or Kansas City, Missouri, when shoulder pain becomes an issue. You can book an appointment online or by phone at either location. Assure that your pain is short-lived by scheduling your visit today. 

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