What are the Different Types of Shoulder Treatment?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 31 December 2019
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Acute and chronic shoulder injuries can be difficult to manage since the joint is constantly used in everyday activities. There are dozens of different types of shoulder treatment available to help people overcome symptoms and regain use of their arms. Choosing the best treatment depends on the nature and severity of a person's condition, but most people are able to find relief from minor injuries with a combination of rest, ice, medications, and light exercises. A seriously damaged shoulder may require physical therapy or surgery to correct problems. An individual who experiences significant, lasting shoulder pain should contact his or her doctor to discuss shoulder treatment options.

Relatively minor injuries typically result in tenderness, inflammation, and a limited range of motion. Such an injury can result from a fall, a direct blow, or overuse of the joint. The goal of home shoulder treatment is to reduce swelling and manage pain as much as possible until the joint has time to heal.


Following an injury, a person should try to rest the shoulder as much as possible and keep it elevated when sitting or lying down. Alternating between ice packs and warm compresses can help relieve swelling and soothe sore muscles. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs provide further relief from pain and swelling. Once the joint starts feeling better, usually within two or three weeks, a person can slowly return to regular activity. Performing light stretching exercises can help rebuild strength and flexibility, and wearing a shoulder brace can provide additional support and protection during the recovery phase.

If a person is in significant pain, he or she should visit the emergency room to receive a proper diagnosis and learn about shoulder treatment options. A torn ligament, pulled muscle, or cracked bone can severely limit use of the shoulder. In such cases, doctors often prescribe high-strength pain medication and immobilize the shoulder with a sling. A patient may need to wear a sling for several weeks or months, depending on the nature of the injury. Regular checkups are important to make sure that tissue is healing properly.

In the case of a serious injury, surgery may be the best option for shoulder treatment. Shoulder arthroscopy is the most frequently performed operation, during which a surgeon makes several tiny incisions near the joint. Using a lighted camera and precision instruments, the surgeon can carefully remove damaged tissue, shave away bone shards, or reconnect ligaments. Metal or plastic screws may be inserted into a badly damaged joint to provide stability. Follow-up physical therapy, which can take up to one year, is often important to rebuild strength after an operation.



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