Thursday, September 07, 2017

How Do Orthopedic Aids Help Shoulder Pain?

Anything that braces and partially immobilizes an injured or painful shoulder is usually a good thing because it effectively prevents further injury while the muscles are at their most vulnerable point. After a doctor, trainer, or physical therapist evaluates the injury, you’ll know how long to keep the brace on, and it’s important to keep the brace in place for the entire period, even if you feel better.

Braces also provide gentle compression and thus support the area until the muscles heal. That same compression also reduces swelling and inflammation, thus speeding recovery. The compression creates a good feeling that, at least in part, offsets the pain, which is why a good arm sling can actually prevent shoulder pain. More on that below.

Kinesio Tape

Kinesio Tex Tape is more than just that wide, sticky tape that you wrap around and around an injured area. Properly done, the Kinesio Tape Method speeds healing and has other benefits as well. Largely because it’s inexpensive, easy to apply, and free from any latex or any other possible harmful side effects, these benefits are available to almost everyone. They include:
  • Pain Relief: The tape ever so slightly raises the skin, placing it away from irritated nerve endings and reducing pressure on sensitive pain receptors. Furthermore, the stimulating effect of the compression effectively counteracts pain messages, especially for things like shoulder injuries, where the pain is out of proportion to the severity of the wound.
  • Reduced Swelling: Not to get too technical, but the decreased pressure also channels away fluids that would otherwise collect underneath the skin. This process is good news for patients suffering from both sports and non-sports injuries, like lymphedema. 
  • Prevents Cramps: Kinesio tape promotes good blood circulation, and when the blood moves like it should, muscles are much less likely to lock up. The same thing applies for the muscle spasms commonly associated with overuse.
  • Unrestricted Support: In terms of the opening discussion, this benefit is the big one. K-tape supports the area and prevents re-injury while not restricting range of motion. That’s key for things like injured shoulders that do not get better without at least a little exercise.
Kinesio tape’s elasticity can also help enhance strength in poorly-toned muscles, thus helping to prevent future injury.

Arm Slings

Almost everyone who fractures a wrist, elbow, or shoulder needs to wear an arm sling for at least a few weeks. These devices are also good for post-surgical patients, because of the immobility and pan reduction aspects of an arm sling, and also for stroke patients, whose arms tend to painfully hang.

It’s very important to wear the sling properly, or else fluid may accumulate in your wrist or hand, and the sling will be incredibly uncomfortable.

•    Pull the sling all the way over your arm and elbow,
•    There should be no cutting sensation around your wrist or hand,
•    Pull the strap tight so your hand is close to your chest and slightly above your elbow, and
•    If there is a thumb loop, use it.

Arm slings are much more advanced than they were a few years ago, so it’s easy to find one made of lightweight and durable fabric.

Shoulder Brace

Neoprene shoulder braces are usually the best, because they not only provide compression and support, but also protect the skin and tendons. These braces also have a substantial placebo effect, because you simply feel better and more supported.

Braces also decrease the risk of dislocation, especially because about 95 percent of such injuries occur during anterior motion when the arm is pulling away from the body. Most shoulder braces permit all kinds of movement except the one most likely to dislocate the shoulder, which is a very good thing. Furthermore, similar to Kinesio tape, neoprene shoulder braces also increase muscle tone, which causes less pain.

If you properly protect an injured shoulder, you can help it heal faster and decrease pain during the recovery period.

This is a guest blog posting.

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