How can I treat a grade-3 shoulder separation injury without surgery?

Suffered a grade-3 shoulder separation and don't want to go down the surgical route? Nick Beer has this rehab advice

By Christophe Dang Ngoc Chan (cdang) (self-made from personal material) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Separation injuries account for around 9% of all injuries of the shoulder. Once pain is managed, immediate rehabilitation is required to prevent continued pain and inflammation, with particular focus on scapula stabilisation.


The anatomy of the shoulder joint by OpenStax College [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

A great exercise is the ‘Scapula Wall Clock’, which helps strengthen the shoulder girdle muscles and restore normal scapula motion. Stand facing a wall, with both arms straight and hands firmly placed on the wall. Keep one arm in a fixed position and slowly move the other up the wall in a 12 o’clock direction. Ensure the moving arm doesn’t bend throughout the movement and the supporting arm maintains muscular tension. Work your way through the clock face, returning each time to the starting point. Change arms. Repeat 3 times. To add difficulty, place both hands through a looped thera-band.

Warm-up exercises should be dynamic and engage the shoulder joint and scapula, e.g. shoulder shrugs, and banded shoulder pull-aparts and blade squeezes.

It’s imperative that during any rehab/warm-up exercises you never push through any pain. Aim to feel pain free through the full range of movement and stop the exercise immediately if not.

You should always seek medical advice for any injury


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