Perhaps you were overstretching in yoga, or maybe you reached a little too high to get to that cabinet. An overstretching injury, specifically of the shoulders, can occur for a number of reasons, including shoulder instability, torn rotator cuff or sprains and strains.
Torn Rotator Cuff: Overstretching Injury
There are several causes for shoulder injury, one of which is a torn rotator cuff due to overstretching of the tendon. A rotator cuff, explains the University of Rochester Medical Center, is a group of four muscles in the upper arm attached to bones by tendons. The rotator cuff tendons let the muscles move the arm, and if the tendons tear it will be difficult to move the arm up or away from the body.
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According to Michigan Medicine, a torn rotator cuff denotes damage to one or more of the four tendons that cover the shoulder joint. Your rotator cuff muscles connect the upper arm bone, shoulder blade and collarbone.
A tear in the rotator cuff tendon can be due to overstretching, and will be observable by certain symptoms, such as weakness, a popping sound, pain and swelling. Tears can develop slowly over time, although in older adults who are less active, a simple stretch or movement can cause a tear.
Read more: Pulled Muscle From Overstretching
Shoulder Instability Injuries
Another shoulder injury incurred from overstretching is shoulder instability. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, when muscles and ligaments are stretched beyond their normal capacity, the shoulder becomes unstable. Shoulder instability can trigger pain, weakness in the arm or a feeling that the shoulder is wobbly.
Cleveland Clinic delineates steps that can be taken to prevent shoulder instability, such as sustaining rotator cuff and shoulder blade strength, and learning proper techniques for certain stretches and exercises.
A sign of shoulder instability is the feeling that your shoulder is about to shift out of place. In some cases, someone with shoulder instability may experience pain. In rare cases, someone could feel numbness or tingling along the arm. Other symptoms include clicking, catching or looseness of the shoulder with sports, as well as everyday activities.
Sprains and Strains
Shoulder injuries can be related to strains or sprains of the shoulder muscles, ligaments or tendons. Sports Medicine Australia explains that sprains may be caused when a joint is stretched beyond its normal range of motion. Symptoms include loss of power, swelling, bruising, pain or discoloration.
Likewise, strains can be caused by overstretching or contracting the muscles too quickly, ultimately resulting in a tear of the muscle or tendon fibers. Symptoms include swelling, pain, bruising and discoloration.
Shoulder Injury Treatments
Treatment of shoulder pain after stretching depends on the type of shoulder injury sustained. For a torn tendon, Michigan Medicine suggests rest, anti-inflammatory medicines, ice and physical therapy. For more severe cases, surgery may be required.
As for shoulder instability, University of Rochester Medical Center recommends physical therapy, rest and, in more serious cases, surgery. Ice and a sling will also make the patient feel more comfortable, explains Cleveland Clinic.
Most important, if you're experiencing persistent pain or discomfort in the shoulders, you should visit a health care professional who will advise you on next steps.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.