Providing the Best Physical Therapy Anywhere!

Separated Shoulder

Whether you're an athlete exercising daily or a passenger riding in a car during an accident, you can sustain a separated shoulder in an unforeseen accident. Physical therapists and athletic trainers often treat patients who have suffered from this unpredictable trauma by treating the unique anatomy of the shoulder. Most often, this condition is precipitated by a direct fall on the shoulder's tip, prompting ligament separation and tears. For young athletes, the condition may occur during a football game, basketball game or during a wipe-out on the ski slopes. For people who do not participate in regular sports, they too can suffer a separated shoulder from a motor vehicle accident.

Understanding The Shoulder's Joints

While sufferers of a separated shoulder may experience pain while making overhead movements, the underlying cause is damage to the joint in the shoulder complex. The shoulder girdle is a unique configuration of four joints. the segments are controlled by four different linkages, which physical therapists call the scapulothoracic joint, the acromioclavicular joint, the sternoclavicular joint and the glenohumeral joint. In the case of a separated shoulder, the acromioclavicular (or AC joint) becomes separated, relinquishing the link between the tip of the scapula and the clavicle. The joint works to maintain stability of the shoulder girdle and allows for the upper limb and scapula to rotate during normal movements.

In the event of a separated shoulder, a thorough examination and x-rays are required to determine the extent of the separation. To complement this evaluation, a patient is also tested on strength, range-of-motion and sensation. Sufferers of a separated shoulder experience significant pain with internal rotation of the shoulder as well as overhead arm movements. They also have significant tenderness and swelling on the tip of the shoulder. While people who have separated shoulders have a disconnection in the AC joint, people who sustain dislocated shoulders experience a dislocation in the glenohumeral joint.

Treatment Procedures For Separated Shoulders

Depending on the severity of the separated shoulder, a physician may mandate a wide range of treatments including rest, ice and modification of activity. For football players suffering from a separated shoulder, a special pad may be used to prevent re-injury. Depending on the x-ray, the separation may be classified as a Grade I, Grade II or Grade III designation to guide treatment and rehabilitation. For example, patients suffering from a Grade I shoulder often benefit from modest treatment. Those with a Grade II shoulder have sustained torn ligaments and often require the wearing of a sling to aid in the recovery process. Patients classified with a Grade III shoulder have had all of their ligaments torn and often require surgery.

Recovery For Youths And Adults

It is important to note that youths sustaining a separated or dislocated shoulder often recover at a faster rate than their adult counterparts. However, with the proper treatment and precautions, both youths and adults can regain their normal strength and range of motion.

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Therapy Services Associates
Hours: Monday - Friday :: 8am - 5pm
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Two Offices
Google+ Link Hobbs
2700 N Grimes
Hobbs, NM 88240
(575) 392-4129
FAX (575) 392-3835

Google+ Link Lovington
Located inside Nor Lea Hospital
1600 N Main
Lovington, NM 88260
(575) 396-5227
FAX (575) 396-7193


We serve Lea and Eddy Counties in New Mexico, as well as Yoakum and Gaines Counties in West Texas.