The Best Way To Treat Your Shoulder Pain

Chances are, you've called someone a pain in the neck at some point when they were a source of annoyance. Calling someone a pain in the shoulder could also be an apt description if you're one of the millions of Americans who suffer from shoulder problems each year.

According to TriHealth, there is a wide spectrum of shoulder issues, including sprains, dislocations, and other common issues that can make even the simplest daily task a pain in your neck — and your shoulder. Rotator cuff pain is the shoulder condition that doctors tend to see most often in patients. "Inflammation, bruising or tears in the rotator cuff are the most common reasons for shoulder pain," Dr. Andrew Islam, an orthopedic surgeon at TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute, told TriHealth's DailyHealthWire. "As people get into their late 30s through 60s, they start to get some degeneration. There's a direct correlation between age and shoulder problems."

Your shoulder is made up of a complex network of joints, tendons, and muscles that support arm motion for a wide range of activities, from scratching your body to slinging a fastball. Because the shoulder supports many functions, it is also more likely to experience injury, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. These injuries fall into 4 primary categories: tendon inflammation (bursitis or tendinitis) or tear, instability, arthritis, and fracture.

Try these at-home treatments

If you have a shoulder injury, there are potential ways you can treat the issue at home before seeing a doctor. For instance, Penn Medicine advises placing an ice pack on the site for 15 minutes and then removing it for 15 minutes. Repeat this regimen 3-4 times a day over the course of 2-3 days. Try to rest the shoulder and refrain from your normal activities for a few days. You can also take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to manage pain and inflammation. 

If you regularly suffer pain in your rotator cuff, ask your doctor to recommend shoulder exercises that will help your tendons gain more strength and flexibility. Being mindful of your posture can also help prevent shoulder injuries. See your doctor if your pain persists after 2-4 weeks of at-home treatment.

While these and other home remedies are helpful in many circumstances, go to the emergency room immediately if you suffer a sudden, severe shoulder injury. If you are experiencing unexpected debilitating shoulder pain — especially pain that radiates to your chest and arm — call 911 immediately, as these could be signs of a heart attack (via Penn Medicine).