Injuries to the musculoskeletal system are common in the United States. In fact, these injuries are the second leading reason people go to the doctor. Shoulder injuries are common around the country. Many people turn to shoulder heat wraps to help with muscle soreness. If you have injured your shoulder, there are things you can do right away to help it heal.
Most musculoskeletal injuries are treated with a system called “RICE.” This acronym stands for “rest, ice, compression and elevation.” Here is how that breaks down:
- Rest the area. If you have injured any body part, the first thing you need to do is stop doing what you are doing. Whether it is your shoulder or your ankle, you need to give the area a chance to rest. A lot of people think they should play through the pain and that is fine for simple muscle soreness but if there is an injury involved, you need to rest the area. If you keep doing the activity you were doing when you hurt your shoulder, you risk doing more damage to the area.
- Apply ice. Before you break out the shoulder heat wrap, microwavable heated back wrap or microwaveable heat wrap, you should try ice. Using ice or a cold pack can help you reduce any inflammation and pain that you experience. Never apply the ice or cold pack directly to your skin. You should keep it on no longer than ten or 20 minutes. You can do this three times a day or more as you need to. If you do not have a cold pack, you can also use frozen vegetables. Just make sure you wrap the ice or cold pack in a cloth to protect your skin.
- Use a bandage to compress the area. This is easier with an ankle but you can use a sling for your shoulder. For the first two days, you should, if it is comfortable, use a sling. If you still need the sling after two days, you should go to the doctor and have your injury evaluated. The proper bandages can help reduce the amount of swelling in the affected area and may help with pain. Another benefit to using these bandages can protect the area and prevent you from injuring it further.
- Elevate your injured area. You can use pillows to keep the area elevated when you are using your cold pack or the ice. This can help limit the amount of inflammation you experience after an injury. The general rule of thumb is that you should keep the area above your heart to discourage swelling.
The RICE protocol should be used for the first two days but after that, you should switch to heat from the cold packs or ice. This is when the shoulder heat wrap or microwave heating pad can really make a big difference. For those first two days, you should avoid heat and stay away from alcohol that can increase swelling. Wait until the swelling has gone down, if you experienced any that is, before you use a shoulder heat wrap. Heat can help improve your flexibility. Some people have a lot of good experiences when they alternate between a shoulder heat wrap and a cold pack.
Using gentle massage techniques can help with blood flow and pain. Rub the area gently and be careful to not do this if you have any increased pain as you do it. Work on bending at your waist and letting your injured arm dangle. Sway it back and forth to get your shoulder moving. During your recovery period, you should avoid tobacco products as they can inhibit healing. This includes smoking but other tobacco products can be equally damaging.
Musculoskeletal problems are costly to the United States economy. It is estimated that these issues cost the economy about $850 billion every year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. In 2006, there were more than 132 million visits to doctors for these issues. If you have injured your shoulder, you are not alone. These are some of the most common of these injuries. The good news is you can make your shoulder feel better with RICE.