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Shoulder Pain


Shoulder pain

is a common problem and can affect your daily activities. Pain can be caused by a problem within your shoulder. Shoulder pain may also be caused by pain that spreads to your shoulder from another part of your body.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe pain.
  • You cannot move your arm or shoulder.
  • You have numbness or tingling in your shoulder or arm.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your pain gets worse or does not go away with treatment.
  • You have trouble moving your arm or shoulder.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for shoulder pain

may include any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • A steroid injection may help decrease pain and swelling.
  • Surgery may be needed for long-term pain and loss of function.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Apply ice on your shoulder for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Apply heat if ice does not help your symptoms. Apply heat on your shoulder for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
  • Go to physical or occupational therapy as directed. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain. An occupational therapist teaches you skills to help with your daily activities.

Prevent shoulder pain:

  • Stretch and strengthen your shoulder. Use proper technique during exercises and sports.
  • Limit activities as directed. Try to avoid repeated overhead movements.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or orthopedist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.