A separated shoulder occurs when the ligaments that attach the collarbone to the shoulder blade become injured. With severe injuries, there may be tears in the ligaments. Most of these injuries heal after a few weeks, and patients regain the full function of their shoulder. Separated shoulder symptoms include pain in the shoulder, weakness in the arm and shoulder muscles, swelling or bruising around the shoulder, a limited range of motion, or a bump and swelling on top of the shoulder. The injury is most commonly caused by a direct blow or fall to the shoulder.
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There are physical therapy exercises that can help treat a separated shoulder. These are geared toward repairing the range of motion and strengthening the muscles again. Generally, patients should wait until after the initial injury has healed before they begin doing exercises. Exercising and straining the muscle during the healing process can cause the injury or tear to become worse. There are a number of ‘wand’ exercises patients can do by holding a stick and extending their arm to different shoulder-stretching positions. In addition, stretches like shoulder flexing, shoulder extending, and pulling the shoulders up to the ears can help. Patients might benefit from circular shoulder motions to test and slowly build up their range of motion.
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