The right treatment for your shoulder pain will depend on the underlying cause, which could be temporary soreness, overuse, arthritis, or an injury such as a tear. Your treatment approach should be specific to your shoulder, but we have compiled our top tips to treat mild shoulder pain and how to seek treatment for persistent or more severe shoulder pain below! If you are unsure whether your shoulder pain is temporary or needs treatment, come see us at ORTHOKnox in either our Knoxville or Athens, TN, orthopedic clinic for a diagnosis and treatment of your shoulder pain.
If your pain seems mild or more like soreness, then the first step to reduce your shoulder pain is to try RICE: rest, ice, compress, and elevate.
- Rest: If you feel shoulder pain, give your shoulder enough time to heal between activities, whether you have to miss a practice or postpone painting your office a calming shade of green. Your shoulder may just need time before you do these activities again.
- Ice: Icing your shoulder can help reduce inflammation and pain from a flare-up or injury. Although it does not fit as nicely into the acronym, heating pads can also help reduce stiffness and are sometimes preferred for chronic pain. (Although, you should see your doctor if you have chronic shoulder pain.)
- Compress: You increase the circulation to an area when you compress it. This can help with shoulder pain by promoting healing, and the pressure also reduces swelling.
- Elevate: While your shoulder is naturally elevated, you may want to use pillows to prop up your shoulder at night to help relieve swelling and pain.
Hopefully RICE will work for your shoulder pain, but over-the-counter pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, can be used at the same time. NSAIDs should not be relied upon to relieve pain long-term.
If your pain persists, physical therapy should be your next move. Your physical therapist can create an exercise plan to help improve your shoulder flexibility and strength, which often addresses the underlying causes of your shoulder pain. In many cases, persisting with a physical therapy program can reduce or eliminate your shoulder pain and help you avoid future shoulder injuries.
You should consult your doctor if your shoulder pain persists for more than a few days or is severe and does not improve with physical therapy. At ORTHOKnox orthopedic clinic in Knoxville and Athens, TN, we can diagnose and help treat your shoulder pain. Our experienced doctors will examine your shoulder, take a medical history (ask questions about your pain, shoulder use, and family and past medical experiences), and possibly run some imaging tests to diagnose your shoulder pain.
Based on your diagnosis, your doctor may recommend you try the above home remedies, begin (or continue) physical therapy, try corticosteroid injections, or undergo shoulder surgery to repair an injury.
How do I get treatment for my shoulder pain?
In our Knoxville, TN, or Athens, TN, orthopedic clinics, we have on-site physical therapists, a dedicated group of doctors including a board-certified surgeon, and a helpful staff who can guide you through your shoulder pain treatment. You can visit us without an appointment with our Orthopedic Urgent Care, or you can make an appointment online or by calling us at (865) 251-3030. We look forward to hearing from you!