How to Treat a Wounded Shoulder and Continue Your Sports Career

Posted October 10, 2023 by in Health + Fitness

A sports career often puts athletes’ fortitude to the test, challenging them both physically and mentally. However, an injury like a wounded shoulder can abruptly halt this journey, leading to uncertainty, frustration, and doubt. The inability to perform, coupled with the stress of healing, can be overwhelming. Yet, it’s crucial to remember that this setback is not the end, but merely a hurdle to overcome.

This guide explores the essential steps for effectively treating a wounded shoulder, offering advice from professionals and insights from successful athletes who have navigated the same path. By understanding injury, therapy, and adaptation, you can persist in pursuing your sports career, even in the face of adversity.

Understanding The Shoulder Injury

The first step towards treating a wounded shoulder is to understand the nature of the injury. Capable of a wide range of movements, the shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the human body, making it susceptible to numerous types of injuries. These could range from strains and sprains to dislocations and rotator cuff injuries. Your healthcare provider will likely use a combination of physical examinations and imaging tests to diagnose the specific type and severity of your shoulder injury. This diagnosis is critical as it will inform your treatment plan and recovery timeline.

Perhaps the most common shoulder injury among athletes is a rotator cuff tear. This type of injury occurs when one or more tendons in the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons that keep your upper arm bone securely attached to your shoulder socket, tear partially or completely. Rotator cuff tears can happen due to repetitive overhead movements like throwing a ball or lifting weights, or due to a sudden fall or impact. Regardless of the cause, rotator cuff tears can significantly impact an athlete’s ability to continue their sports career.

The Importance Of Treatment And Rehabilitation

Once you have been diagnosed with a wounded shoulder, it is crucial to follow your healthcare provider’s recommended treatment plan diligently. This may involve rest, physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery. While it may be tempting to rush back into your sports career, it is essential to give your body the time and care it needs to heal properly. Ignoring or cutting corners in your treatment and rehabilitation can lead to further complications or even permanent damage. 

For instance, shoulder arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgery commonly used to treat rotator cuff injuries, has an average recovery time of four to six months. If you have the same issue, you may want to schedule an appointment with a shoulder injury specialist. Whether you decide on Sports Physicians Orthopedics and Rehabilitation of Texas, or any other reputable clinic, make sure you are comfortable with your healthcare provider and trust them to have your best interests at heart. Ask questions, seek second opinions, and don’t shy away from discussing any concerns or fears you may have. The ability to schedule an online consultation with many healthcare providers nowadays also makes it easier to receive proper care, even during travel or busy training schedules.

Adapting To Your New Reality

For a professional athlete, the idea of being sidelined for several months can be daunting. However, it is crucial to remember that your injury does not define you or your sports career. While it may temporarily shift your focus from competing to healing, it does not have to be the end of your journey. Many successful athletes have faced and overcome injuries, only to return stronger and more determined than ever before. This time off can also provide an opportunity for you to develop new skills or strengthen existing ones.

For example, if a shoulder injury hinders your participation in high-impact sports such as basketball or football, you may want to explore alternative activities like swimming or cycling to enhance your endurance. Additionally, this period presents an opportunity to cultivate mental resilience and foster a stronger mindset, qualities that can greatly benefit any athletic pursuit.

Maintaining Long-Term Shoulder Health

While rehabilitating a wounded shoulder is paramount, your long-term shoulder health demands an ongoing commitment. A well-rounded recovery plan should also include measures to prevent future injury and maintain the strength and flexibility of your shoulder. Regular physiotherapy exercises, targeted strength training, and proper nutrition are key ingredients for shoulder health. Ensure that you are following a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D for bone strength. And don’t forget to practice good posture. Poor posture can weaken your shoulder muscles and make them more prone to injury. Remember, your shoulder health does not end at recovery, it’s an ongoing process. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider if you experience any discomfort or pain, ensuring that minor issues don’t escalate into major problems.

Perseverance, understanding, and a commitment to recovery are the pillars on which you can rebuild your sports career after a shoulder injury. While it’s natural to feel frustration and uncertainty, remember that you are not alone. Many athletes have been in your shoes and have successfully returned to their sports, often stronger and more resilient than before. Your journey toward recovery will likely be challenging and require patience, but with the right mindset and resources, you can overcome this hurdle and continue pursuing your passion for sports. Always prioritize your health and don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

An injury is not the end of your sports career but a test of your determination and resilience. Embrace it as part of your journey and use this time to come back stronger.

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