Deltoid muscle pain is a symptom that millions of people around the world experience.
The intensity can range from mild to extreme. In some cases, the pain can be so bad that it becomes distracting.
It can manifest itself as pain in the back, side, or front of the shoulder.
In this article, we’ll talk more about deltoid muscle pain as well as how to effectively treat it.
Signs and Symptoms of Deltoid Muscle Pain
Most of the time this symptom will manifest as a sharp or dull pain in the font of the shoulder.
The pain will typically become worse whenever you try to lift something.
Depending on the severity of the injury, there may be visible swelling and tenderness.
Generally, deltoid muscle injuries can be divided into two main categories:
- Minor: Also known as “Grade 1”, this is when there’s a minor tear in the muscle (approximately 10% of the muscle fibers). With this type of injury, you can usually continue your normal everyday activities, although there still might be pain and discomfort.
- Major: Also known as “Grade 2”, this is when there’s a partial tear of the deltoid muscle (approximately 90% of the muscle fibers). As you can imagine, this is much more serious and will result in a greater degree of pain and disability.
- Complete: Also known as “Grade 3”, this is when more than 90% of the muscle fibers in the deltoid muscle are torn. It’s by far the most painful of all three stages and will cause severe pain. Recovery time will often be between 3 and 4 months (sometimes longer).
When your deltoid muscle pain is due to a grade 2 tear, then recovery takes about 6 weeks. That is, of course, assuming you rest the muscle.
If you continue to use your deltoid muscle while it’s injured, then it’s never going to heal.
In fact, continuing to use it could result in an even worse injury, so you must be careful about overuse.
Anatomy and Physiology of Deltoid Muscle
The deltoid muscle is a relatively large muscle that’s located in the shoulder. It’s composed of three parts:
- Anterior (Front Part)
- Posterior (Back Part)
Each part of the muscle has a different role.
For instance, the anterior part of the deltoid muscle brings the arm forwards and upwards.
This is called “Shoulder Flexion”. The back part of the muscle brings the arm upwards and backwards.
This is called “Shoulder Extension”. Remember- the deltoid muscle is susceptible to injury just like every other muscle in your body.
Grade 3 Deltoid Muscle Strain
With a grade 3 deltoid muscle strain, you’ll experience a lot of pain.
The swelling will appear right away, and the area around the muscle will become tender as well.
With this type of strain, it will be near impossible to contract the muscle without there being a ton of pain present.
As mentioned earlier, this type of muscle injury has a healing time of 3-4 months.
Here’s how to treat it:
- P.R.I.C.E.: This stands for “Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation”. You should be doing these things every day to promote healing.
- Heat Therapy: Heat therapy can be very effective at relieving your pain, although it won’t necessarily make your injury go away. That takes time.
- Pain Relievers: Again, this isn’t going to heal your strain, but it will help you better cope with the pain so that you can get on with your day-to-day tasks.
Time is the most important factor in this case.
When you have deltoid muscle pain, it’s imperative that you rest the muscle as much as possible.
Any excess use of the muscle will result in delayed healing and more pain.
If you believe that you have a grade 3 deltoid muscle strain, then visit a doctor as soon as possible.
They may use electrical stimulation or ultrasound therapy to speed up the recovery process.
Grade 1 and 2 Deltoid Muscle Strains
These are less severe, but they can still be painful and hinder your quality of life.
Treating a grade 1 or grade 2 strain involves the same strategies discussed above (rest, ice, etc.).
In a grade 1 strain, you’ll still be able to go about your day, although there still might be some pain.
With a grade 2 strain, you likely won’t be able to use your arm at maximum capacity.
There may be mild swelling and sudden bouts of sharp pain whenever you attempt to lift heavy objects.
Like before, focus on getting adequate rest and that should make your deltoid muscle pain go away over time.
The Bottom Line
Deltoid muscle injuries aren’t fun, but they’re manageable if you’re taking the right steps towards recovery.
The key takeaway here is to rest your muscle. In most cases, there’s nothing a doctor can do about a muscle strain.
They’ll likely tell you the same thing you’re reading here- rest, ice, and compression until it’s healed.
To speed up recovery, you may want to consider getting ultrasound therapy or electrical stimulation.