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How do I Treat a Painful Shoulder?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Because there are so many reasons why an individual can experience a painful shoulder, it is very important to identify the origin of the condition. By seeing your doctor first, you can make sure there is not some ongoing medical condition that is causing inflammation in the joints or muscles, or that there is not some type of damage that needs to be addressed in order to facilitate healing. Taking the time to do this will make it much easier to decide how to go about alleviating the shoulder pain and getting back to normal.

Assuming the origin of your painful shoulder is due to a recent strain of some type, it is a good idea to apply some type of cold to the area at once. An ice pack will help prevent swelling and calm the initial inflammation. If you don’t have an ice pack on hand, a bag of frozen vegetables, or even some ice cubes wrapped in a plastic bag will do.

After your doctor examines your painful shoulder and determines there is no type of permanent damage, he or she will probably prescribe some type of medication to ease the pain and calm the irritated muscles. With a little bit of rest and allowing the shoulder time to heal, you should find that the pain subsides in a few days, and you regain a full range of mobility in about a week.

If your painful shoulder is due to an injury sustained in an accident, it may be necessary for your physician to not only use medication, but also schedule you for physical therapy. This may also be the case if your painful shoulder requires some sort of surgery to correct an injury. At first, the therapy will involve simple exercises that help you to regain a decent range of motion. As time goes on, your therapist will begin to introduce exercises designed to increase the strength of your shoulder, including the carefully monitored use of weight machines.

Along with the physical therapy, massage therapy is also an excellent tool when you have a painful shoulder. A qualified massage therapist can use specific techniques that help to ease the amount of chronic pain you feel, as well as reduce any shoulder instability that may be present. Soft tissue massage is particularly helpful for easing the pain of various shoulder problems, while also allowing you to move with more freedom as your shoulder heals.

Even if your painful shoulder is due to an ongoing condition, such as bursitis or some form of arthritis, therapy and medication can often help ease the pain and allow you to move with less stiffness and difficulty. In many instances, dealing with shoulder pain may not be as difficult as you think. Depending on the reasons for the pain in your shoulder, it may be possible to treat the condition at home using basic home remedies. However, it is always a good idea to talk with your doctor before beginning any type of regimen or routine to help ease the pain in your shoulder.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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