Hockey Injury: Tips for Recovery


When to Seek Medical Care

It is often difficult to tell a moderately severe shoulder separation from a fracture of one of the shoulder bones, an injury in the rotator cuff, a torn labrum (ligaments that hold the shoulder in place), or a dislocation of the shoulder (in which the bone in the upper arm [humerus] comes out of the shoulder joint).

Signs of a severe shoulder separation include severe pain, limited range of motion, popping sensation with slight motion, and cold or numb fingers. Because some cases of severe shoulder injury may give you only mild pain with a slight decrease in mobility, people with a shoulder injury often need a physician’s examination and an X-ray.

Mild tenderness to the top of the shoulder may be consistent with a minor bruise. If these symptoms go away with ice, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Motrin), this injury is unlikely to produce serious or chronic problems.

Severe pain, cold or numb fingers, severe or persistent decreased range of motion and deformity of the shoulder indicate the presence of a potentially serious shoulder injury. If these signs and symptoms are present, go to a hospital emergency department for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Self-Care at Home

Like other problems with bones and joints, the first priority is to prevent further harm and ease the pain by immobilizing the joint and applying ice. Shoulder slings are perfect for immobilization.

The application of ice helps decrease the swelling to the area. This decreases pain and expedites recovery. An effective home ice pack can be made by filling a large storage-size plastic bag with crushed ice. Drop the closed bag into a pillowcase and apply directly to the top of the shoulder (similarly, specialty ice packs by Colpac and others would work well).

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The ice pack should be removed when the skin is completely numb or if you sense a burning or pins-and-needles feeling. After allowing the skin to re-warm for 10-15 minutes, the ice may be reapplied. Ice should be applied for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, as often as can be tolerated.

Ice should be used for the first 48 hours of most types of shoulder separation hockey injury. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) or similar medications can be given for pain and swelling.

Treatment for a Shoulder Separation

Frequently, a sling is needed and helpful for the first few days after this hockey injury. This helps to support the weight of the arm and to restrict motion. A doctor may advise some motion exercises such as stretching and light weight-bearing within a few days, once the immediate pain has stopped.

Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications may be advised, either over the counter or by prescription.

Physical therapy may be required, particularly once the immediate pain has stopped within a few days. The decision to prescribe rehabilitation therapy often is made during a follow-up visit.

Complete ligament rupture at the AC joint may require surgical repair by an orthopedic surgeon (a specialist in muscles and bones).


Elbow Fracture & Sprain

The bones of the elbow can break (fracture) into the elbow joint or adjacent to the elbow joint. Fractures generally require immobilization and casts and can require orthopedic pinning or open joint surgery.

Elbow Sprain

A sprain is a stretch or tear injury to a ligament. One or more ligaments can be injured during a sprain. This might occur when the elbow is hyperextended or simply jammed, such as in a “stiff-arm” collision. The severity of the injury will depend on the extent of injury to a single ligament (whether the tear is partial or complete) and the number of ligaments involved. Treatment involves rest, ice, immobilization, compression, and anti-inflammation drugs.


Wrist Fracture

A broken wrist is among the most common broken bones. About 1 of every 6 fractures treated in emergency rooms is a wrist fracture. Usually, when a doctor is describing a wrist fracture, he or she is referring to a fracture of the radius (one of two forearm bones). There are other types of broken bones that occur near the wrist, but a typical wrist fracture generally means the end of the radius bone has been broken. Other bones that can break near the wrist joint include the scaphoid and the ulna. Continued is reader supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

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