Shoulder Bracing

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Recovery With The Support From Shoulder Bracing

recovery with the support from shoulder bracing

Shoulder bracing isn’t something you get excited about searching for on the internet. That means, unless you’re a physiotherapist, you’re probably here because you had a shoulder injury or surgery and were recommended to use a shoulder brace. 

Shoulder bracing use to be prescribed to everyone and anyone with a shoulder issue. Now days, based on current research, we know better than to brace everyone and make sure those who get a brace would truly need one. 

In this detailed guide, we’ll look at some specific shoulder injuries and surgical procedures, which population is most likely to need a shoulder brace, how shoulder bracing can help, and which shoulder braces are best for different conditions.

The Ultimate Guide to Shoulder Bracing

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The Ultimate Guide to Shoulder Bracing

What Does It Mean When Your Shoulder Hurts?

what does it mean when your shoulder hurts

If you are feeling pain, stiffness, or a limited range of motion in your shoulder, you know it immediately. Something isn’t right, and it’s affecting your quality of life in very basic ways. What to do about it depends on the cause. Here are some of the most common causes of a painful shoulder.

Frozen Shoulder

Also known as adhesive capsulitis, the symptoms of frozen shoulder are pain and stiffness within the joint. Typically this shows up when there was a proceeding injury to the shoulder and a period of time without moving the shoulder.

Remember the capsule mentioned earlier? This capsule is the connective tissue that helps with stability of the shoulder. With frozen shoulder, the capsule gets tighter and thicker, inhibiting movement. It can last for months but typically improves on its own. Many people with frozen shoulder experience it the worst at night when they’re trying to sleep.

Shoulder pain treatments for this condition can include exercises, manual therapy with help from your physiotherapist, acupuncture, and moist heat. 

Frozen Shoulder courtesy of Salius Physiotherapy & Osteopathy (Read the caption)

Shoulder Inflammation and Impingement

Inflammation can be caused by shoulder tendonitis or bursitis. These are two variations of the same condition, just in different places of soft tissue – the tendons and the bursa. Shoulder impingement syndrome happens when your tendons get pinched between the humerus and the shoulder blade bone called the acromion.

Often, inflammation can be a cause of impingement on the tendons or bursa, which is why we’re including all three of these as one cause of shoulder pain.

Now, you shoulder tendons and bursa get compressed and “impinged” many times throughout the day, and typically your body can handle it. However, with increase load, a sudden change of activity, a “too much too soon” situation, can all contribute to an inflammatory response from this impingement. 

Shoulder impingement symptoms will include pain that radiates (typically down the arm), loss of strength and reduced range of motion. You’ll feel stiffness when you raise and lower your arm. You may feel sudden pain when trying to lift something. And you’ll feel pain when reaching, especially overhead. It also likely will affect ability to sleep, either sleeping on that shoulder or trying to find a comfortable position for that shoulder to rest. 

For inflammation and shoulder impingement relief, you can use the same shoulder pain treatments as with frozen shoulder. The goal is to calm down the irritation and build up the resiliency of the shoulder’s tendons and bursa to tolerate load again. 

Check out this video to learn the great way to assess the mobility of your shoulders courtesy of PhysioPlus Health Group (Read the caption)

Rotator Cuff and Shoulder Tendon Tears

Rotator cuff tears can be common. In fact, there are many people who have non-symptomatic tears in the rotator cuff, meaning the tear is there but they have no idea because there isn’t pain, stiffness, or lack of strength. Cool, right?!

However, in some cases a rotator cuff tear is significant enough to cause limitations to your day. Imaging the rotator cuff like a blanket of tendons surrounding the shoulder bone. Sometimes a tear may be a few fibres of that blanket that shoes a slight hole but maybe not all the way through. This is what the medical world calls a “partial thickness tear”. A “full thickness tear” is when there is a hole that extends through the tendon completely and in some cases the tendon may pull completely away from the bone (but not always).

As mentioned above, someone may have a partial thickness tear for years without knowing it. Sometimes caused by age, as the joint’s various parts degenerate, and reduced blood flow makes the fibres have difficulties holding up to the task. 

You can also tear your rotator cuff or shoulder tendon from a traumatic injury. It can even happen just by lifting something heavy too fast, or falling on your arm in the wrong way. These would be acute tears, as opposed to degenerative tears that happen over time.

For a partial tear or full thickness tear, physiotherapy is your best bet. You don’t know how much function you can fully get back until you try. There is a good chance that with a partial tear you can fully rehabilitate to full function, even if the tear is still there. Even a full thickness tear may be able to regain full function with great compensation from other muscle groups. 

If unable to regain function with a full round of physiotherapy then Surgery may be indicated. After a rotator cuff repair you will likely be put in a shoulder brace for a period of time to help protect the shoulder as it heals. 

Learn more about shoulder injuries, causes, and treatments

Check out this post from BeActive Physiotherapy about rotator cuff injury (Read the caption):

What Is Shoulder Bracing? And Does It Help?

Bracing provides shoulder support for a variety of injuries and conditions. There are many types of shoulder braces, ranging from shoulder immobilizers that greatly restrict motion, to shoulder stabilizers that allow for continued movement, but with more support.

For instance, if you’ve had surgery, you will need a more restrictive shoulder immobilizer, which will function sort of like a cast for a broken arm. It keeps your shoulder in the same position. Your shoulder needs maximum support while it heals from a surgery. You will need a certain amount of healing to take place before you can do any exercises to rebuild your strength and range of motion.

For less severe injuries, supportive shoulder bracing like a compression sleeve helps reduce pain but allows for ongoing movement. This will allow you to continue performing essential tasks such as brushing your hair, reaching behind you, working overhead, bathing, and sleeping, but with less pain. 

Shoulder movement courtesy of Kenaston Common Physiotherapy (Read the caption)

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How Does Shoulder Bracing Help with Shoulder Pain?

Do shoulder braces work? Yes, if used for the right reasons. 

Proper healing is your top priority after a surgery therefore the shoulder needs to be protected. In other cases a brace may help for proper collarbone healing after a broken collarbone. A sulley brace may be indicated for the athlete returning to sport after a subluxation of the shoulder. In less severe cases a light shoulder support can be helpful for minor aches and pains as long as it isn’t too restrictive. 

Some shoulder braces have a hot and cold feature that lets you raise and lower the temperature around your shoulder. This gives you more freedom to manage your pain. 

Which shoulder brace is right for you?

Always, always, always talk with a doctor or a physiotherapist before using a shoulder brace. There are specific braces designed for specific conditions. Using the wrong one will either achieve nothing, or will make your injury heal incorrectly. Or, it will just be really uncomfortable or a waste of money.

Common Injuries Successfully Treated with Shoulder Braces

We’ve touched on a number of these already, but here is a more complete list of shoulder problems that you can help treat with a shoulder brace:

Now, let’s look at the three main types of shoulder braces, and then some specific models.

What Are the Best Shoulder Braces for Pain?

what are the best shoulder braces for pain

You’re looking for four primary features for whatever shoulder brace you end up using.

  1. Provides shoulder support for your type of injury or condition
  2. Comfortable and as discreet as possible
  3. Made of quality materials with sturdy straps
  4. Straps placed in the right spots
 

Here are ten good shoulder braces. 

The first four are shoulder immobilizers, ideal for severe shoulder injuries like dislocations, broken bones, post-surgery recovery, and other conditions discussed earlier.

The next five are shoulder stabilizers, ideal for conditions like tendonitis, shoulder impingement, and partial tears. The last shoulder brace is a posture correcting brace.

Whichever shoulder brace you think looks right for you, be sure and speak with a doctor or physiotherapist first. Not only will they have very specific recommendations on which ones will work for you, but they can show you how to adjust it to your body, how to take it on and off, and other helpful suggestions.

We must also state that we are not in business with any of these brands, make no money off of them, and do not explicitly ‘endorse’ any of them. The physiotherapists in our network have extensive experience treating shoulder pain and these are some of the brands they have used successfully.

Check out this video from Strive Health and Performance and try shoulder scaption exercise:

Donjoy UltraSling III

This is an easily customizable shoulder immobilizer for shoulder dislocation and post-surgery recovery from rotator cuff repair. It comes in several sizes and will give your shoulder the stability it needs to heal properly and comfortably. 

It includes moisture wicking mesh fabric, and allows your arm to be positioned in a variety of ways depending on your doctor’s recommendations for your injury.

See the Donjoy shoulder brace

Aircast Arm Immobilizer

Similar to the previous brand, this is another option for immobilization. Post-op, dislocations, or fractures are all conditions this brace can be suitable for. 

The Aircast is also made of breathable mesh fabric, and has a nice array of 5-star shoulder brace reviews here.

Shoulder Abduction with Pillow Brace

This shoulder brace from Ortho Depot is a much more affordable choice that also works well for post-surgery healing and recovery. It comes with a pillow that helps hold your shoulder up, which makes it more comfortable to wear.

It has mostly good reviews, but one thing you’ll notice if you read shoulder brace reviews about this brace is that most of the bad reviews come from people who ordered it and started using it without consulting with a doctor or physiotherapist. This is why we keep saying – work with a doctor to find the best brace for you. Or, if you order one on your own, take it in and get help learning how to put it on and fit it properly.

See the Shoulder Abduction Brace

Custom SLR Ergonomic Arm Sling

Also more affordable than the first two, this shoulder immobilizer comes with ‘split strap’ technology, which helps to reduce fatigue by distributing the weight of your arm more evenly.

Its ergonomic design makes it very comfortable, and it comes with an adjustable length. Like most shoulder braces, it can be adjusted to fit either arm.

See the Custom SLR brace

Vive Universal Shoulder Brace

Designed for shoulder pain such as, strains, tendonitis, and bursitis, this shoulder brace is easy to use, affordable, and can be adjusted for different levels of compression. It is made of extra strength neoprene, which provides greater stability. It’s also machine washable.

Learn more about the Vive shoulder brace

Babo Care Shoulder Stability Brace

This shoulder brace includes a pressure pad that can be used to apply ice or heat. Also made of  neoprene, you will feel more comfortable wearing this as you rein in the symptoms of whatever is causing your shoulder pain.

See the Babo Care brace

NatraCure Hot/Cold & Compression Shoulder Support

This brace includes an actual heat and ice pack, unlike the previous one, and it also comes with an air compressor you can use to adjust the amount of pressure the brace puts on your shoulder. 

This is an excellent choice if you have ongoing pain but need to keep moving and want to be able to adjust it throughout the day.

See the NatraCure brace

EVS Sports Shoulder Brace

Designed to give strong shoulder support during exercise and other strenuous activity, this shoulder brace fits many different sizes and is easy to put on and take off by yourself. 

It fits well and stays in place, with no underarm chaffing. 

See the EVS sports brace

FightTech Shoulder Brace

It doesn’t have as many sizing options, but its universal design allows it to easily fit on either shoulder. You can sleep with this shoulder brace on very comfortably, and it will provide the shoulder pain relief you need. 

See the FightTech shoulder brace

ComfyMed Posture Corrector

Lastly, to help prevent pain from bad posture and to correct the way your shoulders are situated, this is a terrific option because it is easy to take on and off and fits chest sizes from 29 to 40 inches.

See more about the ComfyMed Posture Corrector

No matter which shoulder brace you end up choosing, take some time to read the shoulder brace reviews before finalizing your choice. As you can see, there are a lot of choices (perhaps too many!). But you want to get the right one, and no shoulder brace probably works best for everyone who gets it because our bodies are different, and the specific causes of shoulder pain are different.

And, one more time, you should also consult with your doctor or physiotherapist in choosing the best shoulder brace for your injury. 

Find out more about these shoulder braces

How to work on your posture while sitting and using your “shoulder pockets” courtesy of Cedar Chiropractic & Physiotherapy

5 Shoulder Strengthening Exercises for Shoulder Pain

5 Shoulder Strengthening Exercises for Shoulder Pain​

These are examples of exercises that can be helpful for shoulder pain.

Not all shoulder exercises are appropriate for all conditions. All of this is best done with the help of a physiotherapist, who will know the exact best exercises that your injury will benefit from the most, and they can show you how to do them safely and correctly.

Perform all of these shoulder exercises carefully and slowly, and stop if you experience shoulder pain with the exercise.

Wall Crawl

Face the wall and slowly walk your fingers up and down the wall. You can also turn your body to the side and reach the arm to the side, walking your fingers up the wall. 

Shoulder Pendulum Seesaw

Find a chair or something to hold on to while you stand. Lean over, and allow the injured shoulder arm to hang straight down. Sway your body to gently get your arm to move. You want it to move in all directions, back and forth, side to side, and in a circular motion both clockwise and counterclockwise. 

Do this for 1-2 minutes, three times per day.

These next three exercises for shoulder pain require flexible tubing that ideally includes a handle.

Straight Arm Rows

Anchor the tubing to a doorknob or something similar and hold it by the handle, with your arm extended out in front of you, facing whatever the tubing is attached to. Then, pull back slowly until your elbow is against your side. 

Hold that for 3-5 seconds, and return to the starting position. Repeat several times.

Band Pull-Apart

For this, you will have the and in each hand, about shoulder width apart. 

Arms can either be extended in from of you at chest level (elbows straight) or elbows bent and by the side of your body. 

Pull the band apart feeling your shoulder blades draw together. 

Repeat 10-15 times in a row

Shoulder Flexion

For this one, you anchor the tubing under your own feet. Hold the tubing along your side, and raise your arm up and out until it is directly out in front of you, at shoulder level. Hold that for 3-5 seconds, and return. Repeat this ten times. 

Check this video for shoulder dynamic stability, coordination, and core work courtesy of Sporting Edge Physiotherapy

Try these different raises to help strengthen the upper back and combat rounded shoulders courtesy of Salius Physiotherapy & Osteopathy

3 Secret tips for better shoulder stretch and mobility courtesy of Elign Health Centre

Frequently Asked Questions

First, the physical therapist will examine your shoulder injury to figure out the best type of brace for your situation. Then, they will determine the fit using special measurement tools along with trying out a few different sizes. They will also provide instructions for how to use your brace at home.

Depending on the shoulder brace and your specific injury, many times the brace is covered by insurance. Also, if you have a health spending account you can use that to pay for specific medical devices. This usually includes shoulder braces.

Sometimes, yes, shoulder bracing can be helpful with pain and you might find quick relief. However, it is recommended to use a shoulder brace along with shoulder physiotherapy. This combination of bracing with rehab will make your shoulder pain treatment more effective, and your recovery should be faster.

Book Your FREE BACK NECK SHOULDER KNEE ELBOW HIP WRIST FOOT Pain Consult

Shoulder Bracing is one of several possible methods for relieving pain that do not rely on prescription medications and all the side effects and baggage they come with. Not to mention that most drugs can only mask pain, but rarely address root causes. Find a clinic if you are suffering from muscle tightness, soreness, or pain to improve your quality of life, today.