Shoulder pain is extremely common and can be caused by injuries, arthritis, tendinitis, bursitis, and muscle strains. The shoulder is a complex joint made up of bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments, so there are many areas that can become damaged and cause pain. Thankfully, there are many at-home remedies you can try to find relief from shoulder discomfort. Here are 6 effective ways to relieve shoulder pain without drugs or doctor visits:
1. Apply Heat or Ice
One of the simplest ways to ease shoulder pain is by applying something hot or cold to the affected area. Heat helps increase blood flow and relaxes tight muscles. Try taking a warm shower or bath and directing the water onto your shoulder. You can also use a heating pad or warm compress on the sore spot for 15-20 minutes a few times a day. On the other hand, ice reduces inflammation and numbs pain. Wrap some ice cubes in a thin towel and place it on the painful shoulder for 10-15 minutes several times a day. Alternate between heat and ice therapies for best results.
2. Take Over-The-Counter Medication
Non-prescription anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) can provide relief from shoulder pain caused by injuries or arthritis. Follow dosage instructions on the label and don’t exceed the recommended amount. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may also ease discomfort. Applying a cream, gel, or patch that contains menthol, camphor, methyl salicylate, or capsaicin may numb and soothe shoulder pain when rubbed onto the skin.
3. Try Shoulder Exercises and Stretches
Gentle exercises can help restore mobility and flexibility to an injured shoulder joint. Pendulum exercises involve bending at the waist and letting your affected arm hang down. Swing the arm back and forth and in small circles to help relax the shoulder muscles. Do arm rolls by rotating your shoulders forward and backward to increase range of motion. Stretches like the doorway chest stretch and across body shoulder stretch can also loosen up tight shoulder muscles and reduce pain. Start any new exercises slowly and stop if you feel increased pain.
4. Use Massage Therapy
Massaging the sore area increases blood flow and warms the shoulder muscles to provide relief from pain and stiffness. You can rub the area yourself using circular motions and moderate pressure. Even better, ask a friend, partner or massage therapist to knead the tender spots around your shoulder blades and upper back. A 2015 study found that regular massages reduced discomfort and improved range of motion better than rehab exercises alone.
5. Consider Acupuncture
Acupuncture involves having very thin needles placed at specific pressure points on the body. Research indicates that acupuncture can decrease shoulder and neck pain by causing the body to release natural pain relieving chemicals. Look for an experienced, licensed acupuncturist to ensure the best results. The needles are barely noticeable when inserted correctly, and most people feel little to no pain from the treatment.
6. Improve Posture
Poor posture puts extra strain on the shoulders which can lead to muscle tightness and pain. Make sure you sit and stand up straight, pull shoulders back instead of slouching or hunching forward, and avoid cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder. Use a headset or speakerphone when possible. Also be mindful of posture and ergonomics when at your workstation. Changing habits to improve posture takes pressure off the shoulders and spine.
See a Doctor If Pain Persists
Most cases of shoulder discomfort can be managed with rest, home remedies, and over-the-counter medication. However, you should make an appointment with your physician if the pain does not get better within a couple weeks, or if it is severe and interfering with daily activities. Seek prompt medical care for shoulder pain caused by a fall, injury, or accident as well. Getting an accurate diagnosis is key to finding the right treatment and getting long-lasting relief.
With some patience and consistency using these tips, you can successfully work on reducing shoulder pain and irritation without the need for prescription medications or invasive procedures. Always check with your doctor if you have concerns or if symptoms last longer than expected. Combining natural self-care with professional medical advice is the best way to ease shoulder discomfort so you can get back to your regular routine pain-free.