First aid for shoulder injuries

Here you can learn more about what to do after an acute shoulder injury.

The recommended treatment for most acute injuries is referred to as the PRICE principle. This is an acronym for protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

The goal of this treatment is to:

  • Reduce pain and swelling
  • Lay the foundation for a good rehabilitation

We recommend continuing the treatment for at least 48 hours after the time of the injury. However, some of the elements are more applicable than others.

Basic principles

PRICE is comprised of basic principles in the treatment of acute injuries, but should always be tailored to the injury type and site. Always use common sense. If a serious injury is suspected, contact emergency services.


In this context, it means to remove the athlete from play to protect against further injury. This is especially important in the first 48 hours after the injury occurred. It is often advised to rest the arm in a sling. Ideally you should always have a sling available in the first aid kit. If not, then you can always make one with a scarf or a towel.


The player should not play his or her sport for up to 48 hours. The length of this period depends on the type and severity of the injury. This process should be evaluated in consultation with a doctor or physiotherapist.


The aim of applying ice is to relieve pain. 20 minutes with an ice pack every other hour for a day or two generally has a good effect.

Even though there are many commercial ice products available, the best solution is often a plastic bag filled with crushed ice and some water. Place a damp towel between the ice pack and skin.


This is not that important in acute shoulder injuries, because it is difficult to apply compression using an elastic bandage around the shoulder.


Luckily the shoulder is already above the heart, so no need to think about that.