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Shoulder Pain From Arm Wrestling

author image Heather M. J. Emerson
Heather M. J. Emerson is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. She is the owner and personal trainer at Fit Mommas Personal Training and the author of the "Fit Mommas Guide to a Better Body after Baby."
Shoulder Pain From Arm Wrestling
Two women arm wrestling. Photo Credit Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Arm wrestling is a combat sport that comprises endurance and strength. The sport consists of two people using one of their arms with bent elbows on a flat surface grasping one another's hand in an attempt to pin their opponent's arm to the flat surface first. Like any other sport, arm wrestling can cause certain types of pain and injury. One of the most common complaints related to arm wrestling is shoulder pain.

Cause of Pain

Arm wrestling heavily relies on using the shoulder joint. The shoulder contains a ball-and-socket called the glenohumeral joint, which promotes inward and outward circular rotation of the arm. The glenohumeral joint is located snugly between the humerus and scapula. There is only a thin piece of cartilage to cushion the shoulder joint as it rotates between the humerus and scapula, and the more a person participates in arm wrestling, the more the cartilage that is cushioning the shoulder joint wears away and the shoulder begins to lack structure and support, causing pain in the shoulder joint.

Diagnosis of Pain

There are several ways to diagnose pain in the shoulder. One way to diagnose pain in the shoulder is to go through a physical examination conducted by a licensed primary care physician. During the physical exam, the doctor will ask you to perform several motions with the injured shoulder to detect range of motion and severity of pain. Other ways to diagnose shoulder pain in a more detailed manner are CT scan, MRI and x-ray.


There are a few ways to treat shoulder pain without medical intervention. One way is to apply ice to the injured area within 48 hours of the first onset of pain for 15 minutes at a time to prevent inflammation. Another way to treat shoulder pain from arm wrestling is to apply heat for 20 minutes, just before going to bed, to loosen the shoulder's tissues and to promote shoulder tissue relaxation. Never apply heat right after activity because it can cause increased damage and inflammation to the injured area. Also, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as Aleve and ibuprofen can be used to prevent pain.

Medical Intervention

If self-treatment does not help with shoulder pain, medical intervention may be needed. One type of medical treatment that can help with shoulder pain is receiving a medication known as a corticosteroid. A corticosteroid is injected into the shoulder joint to stop inflammation and prevent pain. Physical therapy is another form of medical intervention where specific exercises are used to promote strengthening of the injured shoulder joint. A last resort that is used to stop shoulder pain is surgery, known as a shoulder arthroscopy, which is used to inspect, diagnose and repair problems inside a joint.

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