5 Ways To Reduce Shoulder Pain
You use your shoulder more often throughout the day than you realize. When pain strikes, common movements – pouring coffee, opening doors, and many other daily activities – can become painful or even impossible if your pain is severe. Thankfully, many shoulder conditions don’t necessarily require medical intervention, and you can greatly relieve your pain at home.
- Cold Compresses: This is the most common way to relieve shoulder pain. Apply an ice pack to the shoulder to reduce swelling and inflammation while relieving pain. Start out by applying them for 15-20 minutes while you rest your shoulder, and consider keeping the shoulder immobilized with a makeshift sling afterwards. Immobilization should be short-term only as stiffness can set in very quickly.
- Modify Habits: Don’t sleep on your bad shoulder if you can help it, especially if you are a side sleeper. Try to sleep on the other side or on your back to avoid making the injury or tissue degeneration more painful. Also avoid repetitive motions that involve your shoulder. If you were doing a house project like painting, stop the activity until the pain goes away. Alternatively, use a step stool such that you do not need to pain with an overhead motion.
- Heat Therapy: Cold compresses are helpful for relieving pain and inflammation, but heat therapy is also helpful. It increases blood flow to the affected area, bringing helpful, healing nutrients and oxygen for a faster healing process. Alternating between hot and cold therapy is a great way to naturally relieve pain. Using gentle heat for about 15 minutes and then ice for another 15 minutes a few times a day is a great natural pain relief and healing method.
- Massage: Massaging your shoulder gently can alleviate tension you’re holding in the muscles surrounding the shoulder – which is a natural reaction to immobilize the joint that can sometimes aggravate the condition. Massage also improves blood circulation and reduces swelling, speeding up healing and reducing pain. Massage should include the shoulder girdle (muscles all around the shoulder.)
Overhead stretching – when done properly, this is a great way to relieve pain. Intwine your fingers in front of you, then lift your arms above your head with a generous bend in your elbows. Gently and slowly squeeze your shoulder blades together while avoiding jerky movements. When done, slowly bring your arms back down instead of letting them swing back to your sides. This exercise is easier if the palms face up or away from the body as that positions the rotator cuff away from the spine of the shoulder blade.
Across-Chest Stretch – hold the arm that is experiencing shoulder pain in front of you. Bring your other hand up to rest behind your elbow, pulling the affected arm across your chest gently. Don’t continue this stretch if you feel pain. Pain with this stretch may indicate arthritis of the AC joint; seek a professional evaluation.
While you can do these exercises alone at home, it’s always wise to consult with your physician or a physical therapist before beginning an exercise routine. They can keep your medical history in mind and recommend even more helpful stretches and exercises, help you improve the form of your exercises, and build a treatment plan for you. While it’s best to consult with a physician for an official diagnosis, you can go into your appointment informed about what might have caused your shoulder pain by reading this helpful blog.
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