Shoulder sprains are described as tears or rips in the ligaments that are responsible for securing the shoulder joint in its proper place.
The joint is supported by ligaments which attach the collarbone to the 2 lumps of bone on the shoulder blade. It is important to note that sprains usually affect the ligament on the front aspect.
In most instances, the ligaments might be partly or fully torn. If the ligaments connecting the collarbone to the coracoid process are fully torn or partially, the collarbone separates from the shoulder blade.
It is important to note that shoulder sprains are quite common particularly among athletes who engage in high-speed or contact sports such as football, wrestling, jet skiing and rugby. These sprains typically result from falls on the outer edge of the shoulder or on an extended arm.
The distinguishing indication of a shoulder sprain is a painful and tender joint.
How is it diagnosed
An X-ray of the collarbone is taken on both sides of the body. The X-ray is used by the doctor to determine the severity of the sprain which reveals how far apart the bones of the joint are.
Based on the findings, the doctor can categorize the joint into the following:
- Type I – minor sprain and the bones of the joint stay in place
- Type II – the bones in the joint are partially out of position
- Type III-IV – the bones in the joint are fully separated
How are shoulder sprains treated?
The treatment for shoulder sprains usually depends on the severity of the sprain and the type.
When it comes to minor shoulder sprains such as types I and II, the joint requires immobilization usually with a sling along with exercises that are started early to maintain the range of motion of the joint.
As for severe cases such as those that involve separation of the shoulder joint, surgical treatment is required.