Shoulder and Elbow Injury Prevention Tips

The best way to maintain a healthy body is prevention. Avoiding fractures of the shoulder and elbow involve common sense workplace safety, by avoiding falls. This is facilitated by keeping floors dry and clean, and ladders and railings secure. Workplace safety training is helpful as well. 

To avoid acute traumatic muscle, ligament and tendon tears, fall avoidance is paramount, utilizing the same approach as for fractures. However, many tears come from repetitive or cumulative trauma. Many cumulative trauma injuries occur from lifting. When lifting, it is important to keep the carried object close to the body. The object is from the body, the more force is transmitted to the elbow, shoulder and torso. This is similar to a crowbar, in its leverage effect. This is especially important when doing overhead lifting, which puts extra stress on the shoulders.

Prior to engaging in lifting and repetitive activities, it is important to maintain flexibility. Stretching the arm across the body, and up overhead against a wall, are very helpful exercises for the shoulder, loosening up the back of the shoulder and rotator cuff. Stretching the wrist up and down with the elbow straight keeps the elbow tendons limber, helping to avoid tendonitis and tennis elbow. Strengthening the rotator cuff with 5-10 pound weights, rotating out and in with the elbow by the side, will keep the rotator cuff healthy. Wrist curls with the palm up, as well as down, with 1-5 pound weights will keep the elbows healthy.

An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, but when pain begins to occur, it is best to stop the activity as soon as safely possible and seek medical attention.

 

Robert M. Titelman, M.D.