Shoulder pain is a very common joint problem that can affect anyone at any time. It can involve the ligaments, cartilage, muscles, nerves, and tendons. This pain can also extend from your shoulder blade to your neck, arm, and hand. The pain that people experience in their shoulders depends on the severity of the problem that has occurred.
A shoulder injury can occur as a result of any repeat or sudden movements. It can occur when you’re exercising, playing sports, falling, or even during routine activities such as gardening or reaching for something on a shelf. Shoulder pain also occurs as a result of poor posture and constant slouching of the shoulders.
However, regardless of what the cause behind the shoulder pain is, early treatment is vital. It can take eight weeks or even longer for shoulder pain to heal completely.
Ways to Combat Shoulder Pain
Here are a few ways to combat shoulder pain.
Whether its muscle or ligament pain in your shoulder, pain medications can help provide some relief. Medications such as aspirin or acetaminophen can help you cope with a shoulder injury and get better sleep during the recovery process. However, these medications can also have side effects for some people, including heartburn and stomach problems. So, if you’re taking pain medication to combat shoulder pain for longer than four weeks, you need to consult a doctor.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are another type of medication that can help lower inflammation and relieve shoulder pain. Some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications include ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen. Reducing inflammation is vital when you have rotator cuff injuries, arthritis, tendonitis, and other shoulder injuries.
If you aren’t a fan of oral pain medication, you can also try using pain-relief creams and gels that are applied topically. The benefit of using topical medications is that they don’t have the same side effects as oral pain medication.
Cold compress and heat are both great options to relieve shoulder pain. Cold compresses help reduce swelling in the shoulder and also numbs sharp pain. You can apply a cold compress by placing an ice pack on your shoulder for about 15 to 20 minutes, around 4 to 5 times a day. If you don’t have a frozen gel pack, you can use ice cubes in a plastic bag or even a bag of frozen peas for a cold compress. Remember not to apply the cold pack directly to your skin; wrap it in a soft cloth or towel, and then place it.
Heat therapy includes a heating pad, a heated gel pack, or a hot water bottle. Applying heat to your aching shoulder can help relax tense muscles and soothe the stiffness. Moreover, heat can also help with arthritis pain in your shoulder.
Compression is quite helpful when it comes to reducing shoulder pain. You can wrap your shoulder around with an elastic medical bandage to reduce swelling and combat pain. A regular ACE bandage or cold compression bandage are both good options. You can also get a shoulder wrap for more support. Remember to wrap the bandage snugly. Wrapping it too tight can block the blood flow, making your arm or hand feel numb or tingly.
Shoulder pain may also occur as a result of muscle tension or spasms around the shoulder joints. In such cases, common muscle relaxants, such as tizanidine, cyclobenzaprine, and baclofen, can help treat your shoulder pain. However, these medicines require a prescription from your doctor. Also, muscle relaxants cause drowsiness, so you should avoid taking them when driving or operating heavy machinery.
Get Rest and Change Your Activities
Shoulder pain can be really terrible. What’s even more dangerous is being unaware of what’s causing the pain. You need to refrain from engaging in any physically-demanding activities that can exert more stress on your shoulder, making your pain even worse.
Also, if you are aware of what activity triggered your shoulder pain in the first place, you should either change the activity or stop doing it altogether. However, don’t forget to gently move your shoulder from time to time to keep your shoulder muscles strong and flexible.
Common Causes of Shoulder Pain
Here are some common conditions that cause shoulder pain:
- Muscle strain
- Frozen shoulder
- Rotator cuff injury
While medication can temporarily help with the pain, some shoulder injuries can worsen over time. This is why you need to visit your doctor to diagnose your shoulder pain properly.
When to Consult a Doctor
You can’t expect your shoulder pain to vanish overnight. Depending on the extent of your injury and pain, you will require a combination of home remedies and medical treatment. However, it’s best to visit your doctor, especially if you have any of the following.
- Consistent pain: If your shoulder pain doesn’t improve even after getting ample rest and medication.
- Repeated shoulder pain occurrences: If you have experienced shoulder pain more than once in the past few months.
- Stiffness in your arms: If your shoulder is stiff, preventing you from lifting or rotating your arm normally.
- Weakness in shoulder or arm: If your arm, shoulder, or hand feels weaker than the other normal side.
- Dislocated shoulder: A dislocated shoulder feels like your arm will slide out of your shoulder at any time.
The Bottom Line
Shoulder pain can be excruciating at times. Even though you can prevent certain causes of shoulder pain, such as muscle strain, by exercising to build stronger shoulder muscles, injuries can happen out of nowhere! These five ways to combat shoulder pain are considered quite effective when offering you pain relief and lowering your risk of injuring your shoulder again. However, you should consider consulting a doctor immediately in the case of a serious injury or growing pain!