How can you know if a shoulder injury is serious? Should you ice your shoulder and simply rest it for several days and see if the discomfort will go away? Or, should you rush to a hospital emergency room or consult the Upper Extremity Specialists straight away? In this post, we look at some of the common signs of a serious shoulder injury.

Common Signs of a Serious Shoulder Injury

Several critical muscles control shoulder movement. For starters, the rotator cuff, which is a series of four muscles, allows for shoulder motion. And, a serious injury to the rotator cuff can inflict weakness. Secondly, the labrum, which is a cartilage disc between the two shoulder bones, helps to maintain shoulder stability. A labrum injury can bring instability problems and a dislocation.

How do I know if my shoulder injury is serious? Here are some of the common signs of serious shoulder injuries:

1.      Shoulder Weakness

Feeling weak in your shoulder after an injury may be a sign of a substantial rotator cuff injury. Falling on your side or with an outstretched arm can easily rupture your rotator cuff. While tiny rotator cuff tears don’t usually lead to weakness, large ones do. If you suffer a shoulder injury and face substantial weakness when attempting to utilize your arm, you should see a doctor immediately.

2.      Instability of the Shoulder

A shoulder injury can cause instability or dislocation. Falling hard on an outstretched arm or the side of an arm can dislocate the shoulder. Some dislocations return to their rightful position or reduce spontaneously, but some require medical intervention. If you feel like your shoulder came out of place and slid back, you need to see a doctor.

3.      Shoulder Pop

A fall onto the shoulder can also produce a pop sound and severe pain. If that’s the case, you might be facing a torn rotator cuff or labrum, or an AC (acromioclavicular) joint separation. A shoulder pop that comes with severe pain or weakness and a bump at the top requires immediate medical attention.

4.      A Bump on the Shoulder

Following a fall or forceful shoulder movement, you might see a bump on your shoulder top. Most times, the bump comes along with severe pain and may be a sign of shoulder separation, or AC joint injury. While most AC joint separations don’t need surgery, they should be assessed by a physician to establish the exact type of separation. Knowing the type of Acromioclavicular separation you’re experiencing will determine whether it’s serious or can recover on its own.

5.      Discomfort on the Collarbone or Clavicle

shoulder pain

A shoulder fall can transfer substantial force to your collarbone, resulting in a collarbone or clavicle fracture. The fracture is usually accompanied by severe pain and a bump. Not all clavicle fractures require surgery, but it’s essential to know the type of fracture you have and the best treatment method.

A shoulder injury can be serious, but the earlier it is assessed by a doctor, the better the chances of a successful recovery. If you exhibit any of the signs listed above or experience any other symptoms, you should seek prompt medical attention. Seeking early medical attention can help to prevent further complications in your shoulder, and mitigate the pain.