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Shoulder injuries quite often can often be treated by non-surgical methods.  In fact, with the exception of certain visits, or specific referrals for surgery you should take comfort knowing that Dr. Southard will not offer surgery to you at the first visit.  Various non-operative treatments for the shoulder include the following:


Resting the Affected Shoulder

Rest, especially for our pediatric and adolescent patients plays an important role in restoring shoulder health and shouldn’t be taken lightly.  Usually, a sling is worn to keep the arm immobile and stable.  You should try to avoid using the injured arm as straining the injured shoulder may lead to future complications.  However, you will likely be advised to move the same elbow, wrist and hand.  As we get older, physical rest while it can help to keep inflammation under control, immobilization can negatively affect the rest of the arm/extremity.

Ice and Heat Treatment

Ice causes vasoconstriction which minimizes the flow of blood and lymph fluids to the area thereby reducing inflammation and pain.  Application of an ice pack over the affected area in 20/30-minute intervals during the first 48 hours, along with resting the shoulder can help reduce inflammation and pain in the region.  Once the inflammation recedes, the application of heat can help improve the blood flow around the region to promote healing.

In addition, we offer an extensive series of nonsurgical treatment methods to help you reduce your pain and restore your shoulder function.  These include:


This often involves the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs to help relieve pain and swelling.  In some cases, oral steroids may be prescribed to ease the pain and reduce inflammation.

Therapeutic Injections

Injections are a combination of medications, often inclusive of a steroid and anti-inflammatory that are injected into the concerned joint space, bursa, or the region around a swollen shoulder.  While this may help in reducing the inflammation quickly and easing pain, these are “treatments” and more importantly patients should understand that when used at the proper time these therapies may help to maximize other treatment options, such as physical therapy to help in your recovery.  In some cases, imaging techniques such as ultrasound, or in special circumstances mini-diagnostic arthroscopy may be used to guide the needle to the exact location while injecting the medication, while at the same time providing “real-time” evaluation and imaging of your shoulder.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is the MOST beneficial treatment to shoulder restoration.  While it may be in office, at home or a combination of the two, if therapy is offered it is because it can help in strengthening the shoulder joint, restoring its functionality, improving mobility and ultimately slow or avoid possible need for surgical intervention.  It can also help with the prevention of recurring shoulder pain after the injury is treated.  Moreover, physical therapy can help you learn proper shoulder movements, lifting techniques, and exercises that help reduce unnecessary strain on the joint during every-day activities again preventing future discomfort or injury.  PREVENTION, not surgery is the key to shoulder health..!

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons
  • Orthopaedic Trauma Association
  • Weill Cornell Medicine
  • AANA Advancing the Scope