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    2024
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Complications of soft tissue injuries of the shoulder

Complications of soft tissue injuries of the shoulder

Soft tissues mainly refer to muscles, tendons, and ligaments that surround and support the joints. The soft tissue within your shoulder helps in maintaining regular movement and functioning. Soft tissue injuries of the shoulder occur because of a fall with an outstretched hand, direct blow, or overuse.

Some soft tissue injuries include bruises, strains, sprains, etc. Bruises occur when blood vessels are damaged, leading to skin color changes and swelling. Sprains occur when ligaments responsible for joining bones are damaged and strains are caused by the tearing of muscle fibers.

Cause of soft tissue injury of the shoulder

The reasons for these kinds of injuries include:

  • Sudden increase in pressure over the joint due to more physical activities or load
  • Stiffened or weakened shoulder joint
  • Trauma to shoulder
  • Any physical health issues

Symptoms

Symptoms usually vary, but the common ones include:

  • Pain in the upper arm and shoulder that may migrate down the arm in case the injury is severe. The pain can be either mild or sharp.
  • Pain during overhead activities such as reaching, lifting, or driving.
  • Pain while sleeping or lying down on the shoulder.
  • Pain that affects your sleep or becomes worse at night.

Complications caused by shoulder soft tissue injuries

Soft tissue injuries in the shoulder are sometimes accompanied by other issues or complications, but serious complications are rare. The risk of developing serious complications increases when the skin is torn or the blood vessels get damaged. Some of the complications develop during the initial hours or days after the injury. These include the following:

Bleeding

Major soft tissue injuries lead to bleeding under your skin, also called bruises. When a person is on medications such as blood thinners to dissolve blood clots, even minor injuries can lead to bleeding.

Damage to blood vessels

Sometimes, what looks like a severe sprain might be dislocation, which can damage the artery or cause disruption of the blood supply. When left untreated, it can cause major complications.

Nerve damages

In some cases, nerves become stretched, torn, bruised, or crushed. Nerve damage leads to numbness and tingling of the surrounding area. When nerves become torn, they will not heal spontaneously and might require surgery. Some nerve injuries do not heal completely.

Joint issues

Joints become stiff if they are not given rest after an injury. This kind of complication occurs mainly in older people. Physical therapy is best for preventing stiffness and assisting the joint in moving normally. In case of severe sprains, the joints become unstable, which is disabling and enhances the risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Compartment syndrome

In some rare cases, swelling is severe, which causes compartment syndrome. It happens as the swelling causes pressure on surrounding blood vessels, for which blood flow to the injured part decreases or is blocked.

Conclusion

Following the basics, soft tissue injuries of the shoulder might take five to six weeks for complete healing. But not all recover from these injuries at the same rate as it depends on how severe the injury is and if there are any underlying issues.

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