Symptoms of Shoulder Injuries

By Michael Hinckley
Repetitve shoulder exertion can injure even the most seasoned golfers.
Repetitve shoulder exertion can injure even the most seasoned golfers.

After a day of golfing, how can you tell if you are merely tired and sore or have injured your shoulder while playing? Though it may seem easy to diagnose, shoulder injuries can take a variety of forms, each with different treatment options. Knowing whether you've damaged your shoulder or not is an important step on the road to recovery and will hasten the time before you are able to get back on the links.

Pain while lifting

Lift your arm. If you are unable to, or experience pain at the shoulder end of your collar bone, you might have a separated shoulder. This condition is a separation of the clavicle (collar bone) and the scapula (shoulder blade) and is usually treated by immobilizing the arm and taking analgesics that reduce swelling and inflammation. See a doctor if the discomfort persists for more than 48 hours.


If you heard a "pop" sound before your injury, or felt your shoulder "slip out of its socket" you most likely have dislocated your shoulder. A dislocation is when the humerus (upper arm) separates from the socket made by the clavicle and scapula. Keep your arm still and see a doctor, who will be able to put it back into the socket manually.

Swing pain

Check for pain during a club swing. If you've torn your rotator cuff, you will experience pain when twisting your arm to throw a ball or swing a club. This is a fairly common injury for golfers and occurs when a tendon (the Acromion) is pinched between the humerus and its socket, causing a tear in the tendon. Not all tears require surgery, but all need to be diagnosed and treated by a physician.

No movement

If you can not move your shoulder at all, you may have a "frozen" shoulder, also called adhesive capsulitis. "Frozen" shoulder is a long-term condition usually precipitated by an injury which causes soreness and stiffness for three or more months. After about six months, you will notice reduced movement; this is due to a build-up of scar tissue. Exercises directed by your physician can return most of the shoulder's mobility, but not all in every case.

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