Wondering whether you may have a torn shoulder ligament? The shoulder is one of the most used joints in the body. It is made up of many different components, each of which can become damaged or torn over time. So, how do you know if it is a torn ligament or something else?
Torn ligaments typically present the following symptoms:
- Pain and discomfort
- Tender to the touch
- Bruising and swelling around the shoulder
- Difficulty moving the joint
These can all be symptoms of other shoulder injuries, so an accurate diagnosis will be required.
What is a torn shoulder ligament?
The ligaments in your shoulder are strong bands of fibrous tissue. They are responsible for connecting bones, as well as bone to cartilage. While they may be tough, they aren’t immune to getting stretched or torn.
Ligament tears typically occur when extreme force is placed onto the joint. This could be from a direct impact, or a fall. They cause immediate pain, and you may hear a popping sound or feel the tear as it occurs.
How are ligament tears diagnosed?
To diagnose a torn ligament, a physical examination will be carried out. An X-Ray will then be used to look for any broken or fractured bones. In some cases, an MRI scan may be performed to detect a complete or partial ligament tear.
The tear will be graded to determine its severity. There are three grades in total, including:
Grade I: These tears are minor, with minimal damage caused to the ligament.
Grade II: A partial tear is present, and the joint may be loose.
Grade III: The most severe type of tear, often resulting in complete loss of use of the arm.
Your treatment options
All ligament injuries are initially treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Ice can help to relieve the pain, while compressing the shoulder with an elastic bandage can help to reduce swelling. You may also be prescribed over the counter treatments to eliminate any pain you experience while the ligament heals.
If you have a Grade II injury, you may need to wear a brace to support the shoulder. Your healthcare provider will let you know how long you need to wear it for.
For Grade III tears, surgery will usually be recommended. There are different types of surgery you can undergo, including:
- Arthroscopic surgery
- Open surgery
Arthroscopic surgery is the most common technique used as it is less invasive for the patient. This reduces the risks and complications involved with the procedure. However, if the tear is especially severe or difficult, open surgery may be the best approach.
To discover if the cause of your shoulder pain is down to a torn shoulder ligament, book a consultation with one of our friendly shoulder specialists now.