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10/31/2020 Sophia Hogg

Separated Shoulder

What is a Separated Shoulder?

A separated shoulder is an injury to the ligaments which hold your collarbone (clavicle) to your shoulder blade. In a mild separated shoulder, the ligaments may just be stretched or elongated. In serious injuries, ligaments may be torn.

In most people, a separated shoulder does not generally need surgery. Instead, conservative treatment like rest, ice and pain relievers is usually enough to ease the pain. Most of the people regain or recover full shoulder function within a few weeks after having a separated shoulder.

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Separated Shoulder Symptoms

Symptoms of a separated shoulder may involve:

  • Shoulder pain

  • Shoulder or arm weakness

  • Shoulder bruising or inflammation

  • Limited shoulder movement

  • A bump and inflammation at the top of your shoulder

When should you see a doctor?

Contact your doctor if you have continuous tenderness or pain near the end of your collarbone.

Separated Shoulder Causes?

The most common cause of a separated shoulder is a blow to the area of your shoulder or a fall directly on your shoulder. The injury might stretch or tear the ligaments which hold your collarbone to your shoulder blade.

Risk factors

Participating or engaging in contact sports, like football and hockey, or in sports that could include falls like downhill skiing, gymnastics and volleyball may put you at higher risk of a separated shoulder.


Most people fully regain from a separated shoulder with conservative treatment. Persistent shoulder pain is possible, although, if:

  • You have a serious separation which includes significant displacement or fracture of the collarbone

  • You develop arthritis in your shoulder

  • Other structures around your shoulder, like the rotator cuff, are affected


A separated shoulder could generally be identified during a physical examination. X-rays could sometimes confirm the diagnosis and determine the seriousness of the injury. But in many people who have a low-grade separated shoulder, early X-rays are usually normal.

Separated Shoulder Treatment

Most of the people enjoy a full recovery after a conservative treatment. A minor separation generally heals within a few weeks. A more serious separation may take several weeks to months to heal. You may always have a noticeable bump on the affected shoulder, but it should not affect your ability to use that shoulder.


Over-the-counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve), might help relieve your shoulder pain.


  • Rest -Avoid activities which complicate your shoulder pain, particularly crossing the affected arm in front of your body. You may want to momentarily immobilize your arm in a sling to take pressure off your shoulder and promote healing.

  • Ice - Ice could lower shoulder pain and inflammation. Use a cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.

  • Physical therapy - Stretching and strengthening exercises could help restore strength and motion in your shoulder.

Surgical and other procedures

If pain continues or if you have a serious separation or fracture of the clavicle, surgery may be an alternative. Surgery could reconnect torn ligaments and reposition or stabilize injured bones.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from a separated shoulder, the expert providers at Specialty Care Live will take care of your health and help you recover.

Call 469-805-4561 to book a telehealth appointment for an at home check up. You can request a callback from us too.