Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

My sister was thrown from a horse and then dragged by the arm before getting loose. She insists she's fine but she does have pain and the arm looks droopy to me. What's the best advice I can give her about what to do?

Answer:

Shoulder injuries can be hard to diagnose. A good starting point is an exam by an orthopedic surgeon and an X-ray. In fact, a series of X-rays may be needed to get the right angle to see everything.

Major trauma of this type has been linked with a shoulder injury called a floating shoulder. With a floating shoulder there is a fracture of the collarbone and the shoulder blade. The shoulder socket can actually detach and move forward and down. That's what can give the arm a drooping look.

Or sometimes when the arm has been pulled like you described, a traction injury occurs. This means the nerves got stretched. Nerve damage can result in a drooping arm, too.

Early treatment is always advised for the best long-term result. Working with horses, your sister will need arm strength and motion. This may be the best way to convince her to see a doctor sooner than later. Michael J. DeFranco, MD, and Brendan M. Patterson, MD. The Floating Shoulder. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. August 2006. Vol. 14. No. 8. Pp. 499-509.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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