A shoulder sprain is stretching or tearing of the ligaments that stabilize the shoulder. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that cross joints and connect bones to each other.
Shoulder sprains may be caused by:
Factors that may increase your risk of a shoulder sprain include:
Shoulder sprain may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms and how you injured your shoulder. The stability of your shoulder joint and the severity of the injury will be assessed.
Tests may include:
Shoulder sprains are graded according to their severity:
Your shoulder will need time to heal. Avoid activities that cause pain or put extra stress on your shoulder.
Ice may help decrease swelling and pain in the first few days after the injury.
To manage pain, your doctor may recommend:
Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving your child aspirin.
Extra support may be needed to help protect, support, and keep your shoulder in line while it heals. Supportive steps may include:
Shoulder sprains may not always be preventable. There are steps you can take to reduce your chance of getting a shoulder sprain. These include:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Benjamin HJ, Hang BT. Common Acute Upper Extremity Injuries In Sports. Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine. 2007;8(1):15-30.
Shoulder problems. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Shoulder_Problems/default.asp. Updated April 2014. Accessed June 22, 2015.
Shoulder separation. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00033. Updated October 2007. Accessed September 11, 2013.
1/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Massey T, Derry S, et al. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.