Whether mild or excruciating, shoulder pain is a nuisance that can keep you from the activities and hobbies you love and from living your life to its fullest. While some at-home remedies may relieve your shoulder pain, depending on the cause, you may need to seek medical attention for further treatment.
Not all symptoms of a shoulder problem present themselves through pain alone. While pain is a common symptom of a shoulder injury or shoulder arthritis, here are a few more symptoms to consider if your shoulder feels inhibited.
- A reduced range of motion when moving your arm
- Pain or stiffness in the shoulder
- You have difficulty lifting your arm or shoulder
- Weakness in your hands, shoulder, or arm
- You feel like your shoulder may pop out of the socket
- Your shoulder appears deformed
- Your shoulder is red or hot
Causes of Shoulder Pain
It is vital to identify the cause of your shoulder pain so you can treat your shoulder properly and find true pain relief. A doctor will be able to determine the cause of your pain and devise a treatment plan tailored to your needs, moving you in the right direction. Shoulder joint pain causes vary greatly, which is another reason it is crucial to be evaluated by a medical professional.
Following are some of the most common causes of shoulder pain:
- Wear and tear injuries
- Shoulder impingement
- Rotator cuff tear
- Rotator cuff tendonitis
- Tendon tears
- Shoulder dislocation
- Frozen shoulder
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Bone spurs
- Shoulder separation
When To Seek Medical Help
If you are experiencing severe pain or you injured yourself, don’t wait. Seek medical attention immediately. If your pain is not severe, but you develop a fever, discoloration of the skin, or pain in your thighs, see a doctor as quickly as you can. These can be signs of serious conditions that require immediate treatment.
If you have had shoulder pain for several weeks and have been treating yourself at home with no improvement to your symptoms, you should seek medical advice as well. The longer you have had limited movement and pain, the more likely you will develop frozen shoulder. Sometimes, shoulder pain can be an indicator of a neck problem, so treating the shoulder, in this case, will not help.
Medical Treatment Options
There are many ways to treat shoulder pain. If you have not already treated your shoulder using at-home remedies, your doctor may recommend simple treatments first. These recommendations can include anti-inflammatories or heat and ice. If these options have little or no effect on your condition, more drastic interventions may be used, such as corticosteroid injections, which reduce inflammation directly at the site.
Another treatment your doctor may recommend is physical therapy. A physical therapist can help with a wide variety of conditions surrounding the shoulders. Depending on your problem, they may focus on strengthening your muscles, tendons, and shoulder as a whole. They might also focus on loosening any soft tissues that are abnormally tight.
Surgery may be recommended for certain conditions that do not get better with time and medical treatment or reoccur, such as tears, dislocations, osteoarthritis, and frozen shoulder.
Ways To Relieve Shoulder Pain At-Home
Shoulder joint pain treatment usually begins at home. At-home treatment is typically straightforward and inexpensive, making it simple to work into your daily life. Most shoulder pain sufferers share the same goal: to relieve their pain. Here are a few home remedies that may help reduce inflammation and pain in the shoulder blade and surrounding muscles.
- Anti-inflammatory medications available OTC such as naproxen, ibuprofen, and aspirin
- Acetaminophen for pain relief if you cannot take anti-inflammatories
- A heating pad to loosen tight soft tissues and for pain relief
- An ice pack, wrapped in a soft towel, to reduce inflammation. Use up to 5 times a day.
- Topical pain relief creams or gels
- Stop or modify activities that make your shoulder pain worsen.
- Gentle shoulder stretches
- Muscle relaxants
- Range of motion exercises
- Practice good posture
How To Prevent Shoulder Pain and Injuries
Luckily, it is possible to prevent some shoulder injuries and the pain that goes along with it. There are many shoulder stretches and targeted exercises you can practice. If you plan to exercise, make sure you warm-up and stretch beforehand to minimize your shoulder injury risk.
Another prevention tip is to quit smoking if you are a smoker. Smoking can lead to poor blood circulation and slow your healing. If you consistently slouch or sit or stand improperly, create new habits to adjust your posture in a way that will benefit your whole body. Your shoulders will thank you!
If you find that you experience shoulder pain primarily when you are stressed, find stress relief that works for you. Take walks outdoors, get a massage, take a soothing bath with Epsom salts, or limit screen time.
Figure out what triggers your stress and what combats it for you. When people are stressed, it is common for them to hold tension in their shoulders. If you are doing this consistently, you may experience aches and pains in your upper body.
If you are experiencing significant or intense shoulder pain, schedule an appointment with us. Our specialists will evaluate you thoroughly and will work diligently to get to the root of the problem. If your shoulder pain is burdening you and keeping you from living your life, call us today.