Shoulder injuries present a tricky situation for golfers and doctors. Some shoulder injuries result from falls directly onto the joint while others simply result from repetitive motion injury such as swinging a club or a bat, or throwing a ball. Overexertion can easily strain a shoulder, causing intense pain and loss of range of motion. Healing a shoulder injury takes time as well as careful attention to protecting the muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments. Traditional nonsurgical remedies work best to manage pain and treat the injury to restore full use to minor shoulder injuries as soon as possible.
Stop the activity that caused the injury immediately. Forget finishing the round, cleaning the gutters or working around the house. Continuing any activity that causes the initial injury will only increase the pain in your shoulder and might make the injury worse.
Limit activity during your initial rest period. Resting a joint involves not lifting anything and preventing recurrence or further injury. Don't attempt to swing a club until you know you can raise your arm without pain.
Use a sling (available at drugs stores) to rest your shoulder joint and remind you not to lift your arm in a painful movement.
Apply an ice pack (wrapped in a cloth) to your shoulder for 15 minutes every 1 to 2 hours for the first 3 days. Ice reduces inflammation and pain.
Take the appropriate dose of over-the-counter pain medication to help control pain and reduce swelling.
Apply heat after 3 days to help control pain and stimulate circulation for healing. Alternate hot and cold application after this initial phase, making sure to never apply heat to the skin until the area returns to normal body temperature.
Perform light stretches after 3 days to increase range of motion. Complete immobility can aggravate a shoulder injury and limit range of motion. See additional resources for stretching techniques.
Evaluate the status of healing with the help of your physician to begin strengthening exercises for the shoulder. The best way to prevent shoulder injuries such as rotator cuff tears, tendonitis or bursitis involves conditioning the joint through careful strength training to rehabilitate the joint.
Resume normal activity only when you obtain full range of motion without pain. Returning to your sport too quickly can result in additional damage and increase the time of healing.