By: Dr. Yekaterina Karpitskaya
In the travel industry, March kicks of “shoulder season,” a time of year when you can get great deals for “off season” travel during the spring. In the healthcare field, however, shoulder season is year round as it’s actually the most injured joint of the body. If you’re not careful, even a healthy shoulder can get injured. Overuse and repetitive motion, such as working overhead, reaching, and sports are the most common ways the shoulder can get injured, but your shoulder can get hurt others ways too, including natural wear and tear over time that just comes with age.
The good news is that you can avoid surgery for shoulder problems by not having an issue in the first place! One way to do that is a proper warm up for your work outs, increasing weight gradually. Also, listen to your body; if something persistently hurts, stop the activity, ice it, and take over the counter NSAIDs if approved by your doctor. If possible, avoid repetitive activity; if reaching overhead exacerbates your pain, use a step stool, or put high frequency use items on the lower shelves. Another way to stay well and avoid injury is to keep your body in good physical shape with exercise and a healthy diet. When at work, use proper posture when lifting; take a break for a couple minutes every hour to move around and stretch; and if you work at a desk, make sure your work station is set up properly without causing discomfort.
If you do get injured, some tips to speed up the healing process include icing the area 3-4 times a day for about 20 minutes. If you feel it’s a muscle strain, you may alternate ice and heat, take over the counter anti-inflammatories if approved by your doctor, and/or attend physical therapy if prescribed by your doctor. Finally, do not wear a sling for more than 1-2 weeks as it may result in a frozen shoulder, which is a much harder problem to overcome. If you don’t see any improvement, make an appointment to be evaluated by an orthopedist.