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Treating Shoulder Injuries 

Jennifer Latham Robinson

The treatments for shoulder injuries vary according to the severity.

One type of injury is shoulder instability which occurs when the ball (humeral head) slips out of the socket. This can happen from a sudden injury or can be caused by overuse of the ligaments of the shoulder. There are various ways to help treat shoulder instability depending upon the patient’s age and severity of the case.

Young patients have a high risk of repeat dislocations due to their high volume of activities. A number of dislocations usually can be treated with modification of activities. Older, less active people usually do well with modified activity and some form of exercise program. Surgery may be needed for people who fail these conservative treatments.

A more severe injury is a shoulder separation which is a common injury that often is confused with a shoulder dislocation. A separation occurs when the ligaments between the acromion (top part of the shoulder) and clavicle (bone located between the shoulder and the chest) are injured. Most of the time, this injury is a separation, but in some instances, a fracture occurs with angulation of the bone.

Most of these injuries can be treated with a sling, a Kenny Howard design splint or an acromioclavicular (AC) splint. The splint is used where the steady upward pressure from the elbow and the downward pressure of the AC joint help in reducing the fracture or separation.

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