Shoulder Sprain


A shoulder sprain is stretching or tearing of the ligaments that stabilize the shoulder. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that cross joints and connect bones to each other.
Capsule of Glenohumeral Joint
Shoulder Joint Capsule
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Shoulder sprains may be caused by:
  • Falling on an outstretched arm
  • Forced twisting of the arm
  • A blow to the shoulder
  • Overuse or repetitive movement of the shoulder joint

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of a shoulder sprain include:
  • Playing sports, such as swimming, volleyball, baseball, gymnastics, and tennis
  • Occupations that involve:
    • Repetitive shoulder movements, including heavy lifting
    • Lifting at or above the height of your shoulder
    • Vibration of the shoulder
    • Irregular posture or movements
  • Poor coordination
  • Poor balance
  • Inadequate flexibility and strength in muscles and ligaments
  • Loose joints or connective tissue disorders


Shoulder sprain may cause:
  • Pain, tenderness, and swelling around the shoulder
  • Redness, warmth, or bruising around the shoulder
  • Limited ability to move the shoulder and increased pain with movement


You will be asked about your symptoms and how you injured your shoulder. The stability of your shoulder joint and the severity of the injury will be assessed.Tests may include:Shoulder sprains are graded according to their severity:
  • Grade 1—Some stretching with micro-tearing of ligament tissue
  • Grade 2—Partial tearing of ligament tissue
  • Grade 3—Complete tearing of ligament tissue

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