How Long Does a Sprained Shoulder Take to Heal?

A sprained shoulder is not an incredibly common sports injury, but it does happen. The impacts may not be as serious as some lower body ailments, but they still require a good amount of recovery time. Especially ones with much more serious grades.

The following guide covers the generalities around shoulder sprains and then takes a deep look at what to do when they occur. The timeframe may not be identical for each one, but they all follow the same general pattern.

A Sliding Scale

Shoulder sprains, like any sprain, can be grouped into several different severities. There are various gradings, and they range from mild to moderate to severe. Each one of those classifications is critical because it denotes recovery time and the proper rehabilitation process.

It’s also important to note that a shoulder sprain is much more serious than a strain. Strains occur when a tendon or muscle tears, while sprains only come about when such damage happens to a ligament. 

Grade 1 sprains happen when the ligament suffers minor damage, while grade 2 sprains occur with a full ligament rupture. Grade 3 is classified by both a ligament rupture and a separation of the joint. Recovery time steadily increases with severity as well. 

Mild sprains, which come with some straining, are the quickest to heal. They almost always get better within a week and fully heal within two. Moderate sprains, on the other hand, take roughly two to four weeks before a player can resume their normal activity.

Grade 3 shoulder sprains are cause for the most concern because they typically don’t heal until six to eight weeks out. They can require surgery in some severe cases, and almost always come with a certain manner of rehab too.

Returning to Normal

Shoulder sprains are pretty infrequent when compared to most lower body sports-related injuries, but they still require the usual recovery process. That includes compression, immobilization, ice, and rest.

Anyone who suffers a sprained shoulder should immediately immobilize the joint in a way that prevents further injury. Slings are incredibly useful towards that end, as they allow the person to move around without risking any unnecessary movements or overextensions.

On top of that, a regular regiment of ice and pain medication is important. Both of those steps work well together because they actively cut down on swelling and speed up the recovery process. The less pain someone is in, the easier it is for them to focus on healing.

Rest is key too. Shoulder sprains may be hard to keep still, but making sure they don’t get further aggravated is an important part of recovery. Athletes should do everything they can to avoid using their hurt shoulder in everyday life. That means no exercise, either.

Only once the above steps are over and the shoulder begins to properly heal can athletes start strengthening as a form of rehab. Physical therapy is a great way to bring some power to the affected area, as are general stretches or strengthening moves.

Such moves should only occur once a certain amount of time (set by a professional physician) has passed, but they are critical in the long run. While a couple of small maneuvers may not seem like a big deal right away, it’s not long before they start to really add up.

Final Words

In basketball, lower body injuries are much more common than upper body ones. Even so, sprained shoulders do occur from time to time. They are debilitating, and prevent anyone from playing. Getting over them is about being patient, knowing the recovery time, and moving slowly.

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