Pulled Shoulder Muscle: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Pulled Shoulder Muscle: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

A strained or pulled muscle in the shoulder can cause a lot of inconvenience and even lead to immobility of the arm. In this HealthHearty article, we will put forth the details of the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this condition.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Feb 14, 2018
In medical terminology, strained muscle, more often referred to as pulled muscle, is a condition caused as a result of muscle tissue over stretching. A tear to the muscle tissue ends up damaging the small blood vessels, thus causing bruising and other symptoms, depending on the severity of the damage. That our shoulder muscles are most susceptible to this condition shouldn't come as a surprise; after all they are subjected to a great deal of wear and tear throughout the day.
Causes

As with the muscles in other parts of the body, even our shoulder muscles are susceptible to regular wear and tear. When we pull these muscles beyond a limit, the fibrous tissue within is stretched beyond its capacity, as a result of which it eventually tears. Repetitive stress owing to the daily wear and tear, overuse of rotator cuff, etc., are the prominent causes of pulled shoulder muscle. That is not to say wear and tear is the only responsible for this condition. At times, this injury can be caused as sudden awkward movements, muscle fatigue, etc.
Symptoms

Pain: This is the most common symptom of pulled muscle in the shoulder. The amount of pain the person experiences may vary according to the severity of the damage. This may range from slight tenderness to a sharp ache. While it is possible to move the arm in most cases, the pain involved in doing so can be difficult to bear.
Stiffness: When some muscle is pulled, it causes the fibers around it to tighten as a defense mechanism. This, in turn, makes the affected area stiff, and thus, difficult to move. This stiffness can be attributed to the injury caused to the tissues and the sudden influx of blood to this area.
Weakness: Any damage caused to the shoulder muscle, especially within the rotator cuff, is bound to cause weakness and hamper the strength of the entire arm. This weakness can be characterized by the inability to lift objects or bear weight. At times, the person may experience immense difficulty whilst trying to move his arm.
The severity of damage determines the degree of the symptoms discussed above. At times, these symptoms are serious enough to limit the range of motion for the individual. Though rare, in some cases, the person may hear a faint noise of muscle tear as he tries to move the affected hand, or observe dark spots which are signs of blood clotting due to the rupturing of small blood vessels.
Treatment

Swelling or internal bleeding caused due to pulled shoulder muscle can be eased by applying an icepack on the affected area. Stretching can also help in relieving the pain associated with this condition. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, such as aspirin, can help in reducing the muscle pain, thus making it possible for the person to move the hand. The PRICE formula (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) is ideal when it comes to dealing with pulled muscle in any part of the body, including the shoulder.
Depending on the severity of the condition, the doctor will recommend the use braces in order to avoid unnecessary movement, as that may further aggravate the injury. The patient will be advised to restrict his activity for a few days and resort to rehabilitation exercises in order to facilitate quick recovery. More importantly, he will be advised to strictly avoid activities which are likely to further strain the affected muscle.
Though the treatment of this condition is not difficult, preventing it in the first place is a wise option. It can be prevented by maintaining good fitness levels, stretching regularly to make your body agile, warming up properly before indulging in intense physical activity, etc. Pulled muscle, regardless of whether it is in shoulder or any other part of the body, can cause a great deal of inconvenience, and therefore, taking simple measures to prevent it is always worth the effort.
Disclaimer: This article is purely for the purpose of providing information and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice.