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"Why does my shoulder still hurt three weeks after a fall?"
I'm a 23 year old college student, and I was playing basketball three weeks ago and took a hard fall on my shoulder and hip. Since then, my hip has returned to normal, but my shoulder still has nagging pain. The bruising and swelling have decreased, but the pain persists. I have tried stretches every morning and every night, but to no avail.
Musculoskeletal injuries can often cause distressing symptoms that persist for several weeks after an injury. Given the hard surface of the basketball court, theoretically you could have suffered a minor fracture of the shoulder joint. This can be detected by simple x-rays that your primary care physician or university health doctor can arrange. The shoulder also contains a group of 4 muscles known as the rotator cuff, which acts to stabilize the ball-in-socket joint. These muscles can be bruised or torn like any other muscles involved in a trauma. A torn rotator cuff will often cause weakness in one of several motions of the arm, which can be tested for with a thorough physical exam by your doctor. If there is concern for a rotator cuff injury, then you may need a MRI to further characterize the details. Other than a fracture or muscle tear, your injury may also have produced a simple bruise or muscle strain, which can sometimes take more than a month to heal. You can try taking Ibuprofen; this can help decrease the inflammation in the area and may help to alleviate the pain you are experiencing.
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