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Definition

What is separated shoulder?

A separated shoulder is an injury to the ligaments that hold your collarbone (clavicle) to your shoulder blade. In a mild separated shoulder, the ligaments might just be stretched. In severe injuries, ligaments might be torn.

In most people, a separated shoulder doesn’t usually require surgery. Instead, conservative treatment — such as rest, ice and pain relievers — is often enough to relieve the pain. Most people regain full shoulder function within a few weeks after having a separated shoulder.

How common is separated shoulder?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of separated shoulder?

The common symptoms of separated shoulder are:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Shoulder or arm weakness
  • Shoulder bruising or swelling
  • Limited shoulder movement
  • A bump and swelling at the top of your shoulder

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

Contact your doctor if you have persistent tenderness or pain near the end of your collarbone.

Causes

What causes separated shoulder?

The most common cause of a separated shoulder is a blow to the point of your shoulder or a fall directly on your shoulder. The injury may stretch or tear the ligaments that hold your collarbone to your shoulder blade.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for separated shoulder?

Participating in contact sports, such as football and hockey, or in sports that can involve falls — such as downhill skiing, gymnastics and volleyball — might put you at higher risk of a separated shoulder.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is separated shoulder diagnosed?

A separated shoulder can usually be identified during a physical exam. X-rays can sometimes confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity of the injury. But in many people who have a low-grade separated shoulder, early X-rays are often normal.

How is separated shoulder treated?

Most people enjoy a full recovery after conservative treatment. A minor separation usually heals within a few weeks. A more severe separation might take several weeks to months to heal. You might always have a noticeable bump on the affected shoulder, but it shouldn’t affect your ability to use that shoulder.

Medications

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve), may help ease shoulder pain.

Therapy

  • Avoid activities that aggravate your shoulder pain, especially crossing the affected arm in front of your body. You might want to temporarily immobilize your arm in a sling to take pressure off your shoulder and promote healing.
  • Ice can reduce shoulder pain and swelling. Use a cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Physical therapy. Stretching and strengthening exercises can help restore strength and motion in your shoulder.

Surgical and other procedures

If pain persists or if you have a severe separation or fracture of the clavicle, surgery might be an option. Surgery can reconnect torn ligaments and reposition or stabilize injured bones.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage separated shoulder?

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: October 21, 2017 | Last Modified: October 21, 2017

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