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What Are the Different Types of Shoulder Pain Management?

Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins

Shoulder pain could be caused by any number of ailments, from tendon, bone or cartilage damage to cancer, arthritis or a heart attack. Regardless of the cause, doctors have several options for offering shoulder pain management while the deeper cause of the problem is treated. These recommendations could be simple like rest, immobility and prescription or over-the-counter medication. They might also extend into preventative solutions like physical therapy, exercise, herbal supplements, chiropractics, massage and, if deemed necessary, a surgical procedure to neutralize the pain at the source.

The Mayo Clinic advises people who want to avoid a doctor visit to use anti-inflammatory medication for shoulder pain management. It also recommends a non-strenuous regimen to avoid straining the shoulder as well as the application of an ice pack at least twice daily. It is time to see a doctor, however, if redness, heat, disfigurement, severe pain or swelling occurs at the shoulder, indicating a possible internal rupture.

An ice pack can help with shoulder pain.
An ice pack can help with shoulder pain.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) approaches shoulder pain management in three facets: lifestyle alteration, medication and surgical intervention. Lifestyle changes can incorporate several alterations to a person's routine to create the proper environment for shoulder pain management. Beyond immobilizing the joint to with a sling or splint, a doctor will frequently advise a patient to rest and refrain from physical activity.

Cutting back on activites may relieve shoulder pain.
Cutting back on activites may relieve shoulder pain.

Medications might involve over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or acetomenophen or more potent prescription offerings like Vicodin®, Oxycontin® or Percocet®. Many also recommend a regimen of physical therapy aimed at restoring vitality to the shoulder. Sometimes surgery cannot be avoided, however, if the patient wants certain injuries to properly heal and for the source of the pain to be eradicated.

A massage may help relieve shoulder pain.
A massage may help relieve shoulder pain.

Beyond these standard responses, many people seek out other methods to contain shoulder pain and restore quality of life. This may involve massage techniques, acupuncture or chiropractic realignment. Those with shoulder pain stemming from conditions like arthritis often take supplements proven to improve joint pain, with ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, ginger and even green tea. WebMD maintains an online list of supplements for improving joint pain.

Percocet might be prescribed to treat shoulder pain.
Percocet might be prescribed to treat shoulder pain.

Most shoulder pain is created by a handful of usual suspects. Tendon damage, inflammation caused by a condition like tendinitis, arthritis or a broken bone are most commonly seen by doctors, according to the AAOS. After confirmation of the specific cause of the pain, either through examination or x-ray imagery, shoulder pain management can begin in any number of ways.

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    • An ice pack can help with shoulder pain.
      By: Marc Dietrich
      An ice pack can help with shoulder pain.
    • Cutting back on activites may relieve shoulder pain.
      By: Syda Productions
      Cutting back on activites may relieve shoulder pain.
    • A massage may help relieve shoulder pain.
      By: WavebreakmediaMicro
      A massage may help relieve shoulder pain.
    • Percocet might be prescribed to treat shoulder pain.
      By: ACphoto
      Percocet might be prescribed to treat shoulder pain.
    • Keeping an open dialog with their doctor helps most people ensure their pain is well-managed.
      By: Monkey Business
      Keeping an open dialog with their doctor helps most people ensure their pain is well-managed.
    • A regime of physical therapy can restore vitality to the shoulder.
      By: alexp3
      A regime of physical therapy can restore vitality to the shoulder.