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Dealing with a deltoid strain

Deltoid strain is a common injury on muscles of the shoulder. It is usually common in people playing sports. The deltoid muscle is a muscle covering the joint of the shoulder. It is divided into three parts which are the anterior or the front part; the middle part and the posterior or the back area.

The main function of the deltoid muscle is for abduction or movement away from the body of the arm or moving the arms to the side of the body and in front of the body or forward elevation. The deltoid muscle is a strong muscle and needed for various sports activities. Performing activities or overuse causes injuring the deltoid muscle and result to deltoid strain. Deltoid strain can be classified into 3 grades.


Apply an ice pack on the affected area for at least 15-minutes at a time for the first day for several days.

  • Grade 1 deltoid strain usually causes mild shoulder pain and the individual can still use the shoulders without difficulty or pain.
  • Grade 2 deltoid strain is usually the result of a major injury in the deltoid muscles. There can be a incomplete rupture of the deltoid muscle and causes an increased pain in the shoulder. There is difficulty using the shoulder when performing regular activities and there will be swelling of the affected shoulder.
  • Grade 3 deltoid strain is the most severe form of strain, where there is a complete rupture of the deltoid muscle. It is characterized by severe pain and incapable of using the affected shoulder when performing any regular activities.

Causes of deltoid strain

  • Activities that cause over stressing the deltoid muscles such as swimming, skiing, weightlifting, carrying children and working using heavy tools such as nail guns and drills.
  • Vehicular accidents
  • The axillary nerve found near the neck becomes damaged; the deltoid muscle cannot function properly and result to numbness and weakness of the outer area of the shoulder when lifting the arm away from the body.
  • Using the shoulder to break a fall


  • Pain in the shoulder
  • Swelling of the affected shoulder
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Stiffness of the muscles
  • Bruising
  • A severe strain there will be weakness and muscle loss or atrophy


  • Take plenty of rest for fast healing of the condition.
  • Apply an ice pack on the affected area for at least 15-minutes at a time for the first day for several days. Ice lessens the inflammation and the pain. Avoid ice directly on the skin, wrap it using a towel or a cloth before placing to the area to prevent ice burn and worsen the condition.
  • Provide the given over-the-counter pain medications to lower the pain and the inflammation.
  • Seek the help of the physical therapist for some rehabilitation exercises to stretch and strengthen and restore full range of movement of the affected deltoid.
  • Massage the area to keep the muscle become loose, flexible and makes the injured tissues warm.

More Information

The details posted on this page on a deltoid strain is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage this type of strain, enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.

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