Understand Your Shoulder Pain

Sometimes we don’t even realize how much we rely on our shoulder muscles until we can’t use them one day due to injury. Understanding your shoulder pain can help you find relief and help your shoulder get back to doing all the things you need it to do. Consult your doctor first for a diagnosis as many conditions can cause shoulder pain.


Here's the crazy thing about the shoulder — it’s the most moveable joint in the body, but also one of the most unstable. This is why so many people experience shoulder pain at some point.

The shoulder joint is highly dependent on the surrounding muscles and ligaments to hold it in place. As a result, it’s easy to experience sprains, strains, dislocations, separations, tendinitis, torn rotator cuffs and fractures — all potential causes of shoulder pain. Remember to see your doctor first before you begin any treatment or if your pain gets worse or persists.

"It's the most moveable joint in the body, but also one of the most unstable."


The key to relieving shoulder pain is to get on top of it right away. The good news is, shoulder pain can sometimes be treated at home with methods like these:

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Over-the-counter medications

Aleve is one option that can help relieve minor shoulder pain when used as directed. Just make sure you always check with your doctor before taking any medication.

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Simply put, try to avoid moving your shoulder in a way that causes pain.

illustrated ice cubes inside a yellow circle

Applying ice for 15–20 minutes a day can help to relieve shoulder pain.

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Supportive Therapies

See what else you can do to complement your treatment and relieve shoulder pain.


Give pain the cold shoulder

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Applying ice to your shoulder muscles when you start to feel pain can help to reduce inflammation, provide pain relief and aid in speeding up the recovery process. First, put the ice in a leak-proof plastic bag and wrap the bag in cloth, since putting ice directly on your skin can be painful and cause damage. Then, alternate between applying the ice for 15 minutes and removing it for 15 minutes. Do this 3-4 times a day for 2-3 days. Please see your doctor right away if the pain persists or gets worse.

Give 'em a break

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Shoulders do a lot of hard work, and when you’re in pain, it can feel like they’re working overtime. Refrain from performing shoulder exercises. Rest your shoulders as much as you can by using arm rests on chairs and putting your hands in your pockets. If your rotator cuff is the problem, try keeping your elbows at your sides.

Dig in

Tip 3 of 3

Rub against the grain at the most painful spot on the shoulder. Do this for about a minute a few times a day to help alleviate pain and swelling. Inside tip: If you find this uncomfortable, ice beforehand to numb the area. Also, if the area of your shoulder that is experiencing pain is hard to reach, you can opt to ask a family member to help with massage, or visit a professional masseuse.