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The Best Treatments for Shoulder Pain

Shoulder Pain Treatment Basics

What Are The Best Treatments For Shoulder Pain?

The treatment of your shoulder pain depends entirely on the cause of your problem. Therefore, it is most important that you understand the cause of your symptoms before starting a treatment program. If you are not sure of your diagnosis or how severe is your condition, you should get medical advice before starting any treatment.

Not all the treatments listed here are appropriate for every condition, but one may be helpful in your situation.

Rest: The primary treatment for many common conditions that cause shoulder pain is to rest the joint, and allow the acute inflammation to die down. It is important, however, to be careful when resting the joint, because lengthy lack of movement can bring about a frozen shoulder.

Application of Ice and Heat: Ice packs and heat packs are two of the most commonly used treatments for shoulder pain. So, which one would be the correct one to use, ice or heat? And for how long should ice or heat treatment last? Read on for further information about these treatments.

Stretching: Stretching the muscles and tendons surrounding the joint can assist with some causes of shoulder pain. Establish a good routine and by following some specific suggestions you will be helped on your way to recovery.

Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is an extremely useful part of treatment of almost all orthopedic conditions. Physical therapists use specific programs to regain mobility, increase strength and help to return patients to pre-injury levels of activity.  Some specific exercises may help you to strengthen the muscles around the joint and relieve some of the pain occurring with many conditions.

Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications, referred to as NSAIDs, are among the most frequently prescribed medications, especially for patients with shoulder pain caused by problems like arthritis, bursitis, or tendonitis.

Cortisone Injections: Cortisone is a powerful medication that reduces inflammation, and that is a common problem for patients with shoulder pain. Discuss with your doctor the potential benefits of a cortisone injection for your shoulder pain.

Physical Therapy

When To Exercise Your Shoulder:

           Shoulder exercises are useful in treating many of the common causes of shoulder pain. Shoulder exercises also are part of the typical rehabilitation from almost any shoulder surgery.

           Shoulder exercises need to be done under the guidance of a physical or occupational therapist to make sure that the right muscles are being targeted for your problem. If surgery has been done it is also important to only perform exercises that will not unduly stress surgical repairs in the shoulder.


Why Shoulder Exercises Should Be Done:

           Shoulder rehabilitation focuses on the two most important aspects of shoulder motion: flexibility and strength. Without an adequate range of motion, many everyday tasks cannot be performed. Patients typically have shoulder stiffness when having difficulty reaching behind the back, buckling seatbelts, or combing their hair.

           The second most important aspect of shoulder exercises is strengthening the muscles around the shoulder. It is important not to stress the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder. These muscles may be liable to injury and inflammation if incorrect exercises and activities are performed.


Stretching A Stiff Shoulder:

           Stretching is not only a key part of preparing for exercise programs, but in many instances of shoulder pain, stretches are by far the most important part of treatment. Shoulder conditions frequently involve shoulder stiffness. Stretching exercises help to loosen those muscles surrounding the shoulder joint.


           The commonest cause of stiff shoulders is adhesive capsulitis, popularly termed a frozen shoulder. This condition can come on independently, or as a result of immobilization after shoulder injuries or shoulder surgery. Shoulder stretches are crucial for treatment and avoidance of a frozen shoulder.


Simple Shoulder Exercises:

With numerous shoulder injuries, and also with post-surgical patients, exercises using the rotator cuff may be avoided to preclude stress on these shoulder muscles. Therefore, it is vital to understand a few methods to safely work the upper extremity, without stressing the rotator cuff.


The simplest of shoulder exercises are called pendulum exercises. These are done by bending forward to allow your arm to hang down towards the ground. Small circles are made with the hand, allowing the momentum to carry the arm around effortlessly.


Strengthening The Rotator Cuff:

           The rotator cuff is the group of four muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint. Injuries to the rotator cuff are the commonest cause of shoulder pain. It is essential to know from your doctor and therapist if it would be safe to exercise the rotator cuff, especially after surgery. In these situations, the rotator cuff may need resting until healing has progressed enough.

           The rotator cuff muscles are not the large lifting muscles of the upper back and arms. The rotator cuff muscles may be exercised with little or no weights. If more weight is being used, the exercises are probably not being done correctly.


Ice and Heat Treatment

Ice packs and heat pads are two of the commonest used treatments in orthopedics. So, which one will be the right one to use for your injury, ice or heat? And for how long should they last? Read on for more information about the treatment of injuries with ice packs and heating pads.

Ice Treatment

           Ice treatment is most often used for acute injuries. If you have had a recent injury (within the last 48 hours), where there is swelling, you should be use ice treatment. Ice packs can help reduce swelling around the injury.

           Ice packs are often used after injuries like ankle sprains. Applying ice packs early and often for the first 48 hours will help to reduce swelling. Lessening swelling around injuries will help to control the pain.

           Ice treatments also may be used in chronic conditions, such as overuse injuries in athletes. In these cases, ice the injured areas after activity to help control inflammation. Never apply ice to chronic injuries before activity.

 Heat Treatment

           Heat treatments are used for chronic conditions to help to relax and loosen tissues and stimulate blood flow to the area. Use heat treatments for chronic conditions, such as overuse injuries, before taking part in activities.

           Don’t use heat treatments after the activity, and don’t use heat after an acute injury. Heating tissues can be performed using a heating pad, or even a hot, wet towel. When using heat treatments, be careful to use only moderate heat for a limited time to avoid burns. Never leave heating pads or towels on for long periods of time, or while asleep.


When To Use 

Use ice after an acute injury, such as an ankle sprain, or after activities that irritate a chronic injury, such as shin splints.

Use heat before activities that irritate chronic injuries such as muscle strains. Heat can help loosen tissues and relax injured areas.

How To Do It

Read through the information on how to ice an injury. There are several ways to ice an injury.

Heating pads or hot wet towels are both excellent methods. Place a washcloth under hot tap water and then apply to the injured area.

For How Long             

Apply ice treatments for no longer than 20 minutes at a time. Too much ice can do harm, even cause frostbite; more ice application does not mean more relief.  It is not necessary to apply a heat treatment for more than about 20 minutes at a time.

Never apply heat while sleeping


Stretching Out

Stretching before exercising is an important, and frequently neglected, step in your workouts. A good routine should be established, and if you follow the suggestions below you will be helped on your way.

           Difficulty: Average

           Time Required: 20 minutes

Know your sport

Whether you're in the gym, on the track, or anywhere else, it's necessary to know what will be involved in your workout. Understanding just which muscles will be worked is the only way to know best how to stretch out.

Focus on those muscles

While a good overall routine is useful, your emphasis ought to be on the muscles that will be the most heavily involved in the workout.

Warm up before stretching

Just some easy walking or light jogging will be enough to warm up the muscles, but it will ensure the stretching session is much more valuable.

Begin slowly

No need to touch your toes right away: Start slowly and push yourself as your muscles loosen. Stretching too much, or too soon, can be painful and possibly harmful.

Hold the stretch

Once you feel that your muscles are reaching their limit, hold the position for a count of 10. Then push yourself a little more and hold again for a count of 10.

Don't rush your stretching routine

If you're going to have to shorten your workout, don't cut out or shorten the stretching. This is more important than an additional set of reps or another half mile.

Do it again

Once you've finished working out, stretch again. Not only is this an excellent way to cool down after your workout, but this is the very time you will improve your flexibility the most.


Don't bounce!

You will get the finest stretch, and avoid injuries if you avoid bouncing. Instead, hold the stretch, feeling a constant pull in the muscles.

Stretch both sides.

Many have a tendency to under-stretch the ‘good’ side after an injury. Use the same stretches, for the same length of time, for each side of your body.

Get professional help.

Gym trainers, exercise instructors and physical therapists, all will know fantastic ways to stretch. When you're getting going, have somebody knowledgeable watch your routine and offer suggestions.

If you are interested in learning more about BodyFit's Personal Training program then reach out to BodyFit Physical Therapy. See what our client says about us. To schedule a FREE Discovery Visit-A Consultation with a Physical Therapist, contact BodyFit Physical Therapy by emailing cindy@bodyfitphysicaltherapy.com or calling Cindy at 860-507-7365.