How to Relieve Shoulder Pain: Meds, Exercises, and Home Remedies

Shoulder pain is one of the most common regional pain syndromes, which is a pain in one specific part of your body. If you experience shoulder pain, you aren’t alone. About 18-26% of adults experience shoulder pain in their lifetime. Sometimes, shoulder pain is persistent and can impact your ability to perform daily activities like working, driving, or keeping house. Both workplaces and those suffering from shoulder pain can face economic loss due to a debilitating case. This includes impacted job performance, an increased need for healthcare, taking a lot of sick leave, needing to retire early, or even potential job loss. If you’re wondering how to relieve shoulder pain, this article is for you. We will discuss exercises and home remedies for shoulder pain, along with its common causes. 

Exercises to Relieve Shoulder Pain

If you’re wondering how to relieve shoulder pain from sleeping wrong, please keep reading. If possible, it’s good to get at the root of shoulder pain, which can sometimes be tight muscles (usually from overwork or poor posture). Here are four stretches you can do to help relieve your shoulder pain at its core. Remember, with any exercise or stretching, a bit of discomfort is ok, but if you feel anything sharp, either back up off the exercise and do less or stop altogether. Sharp pain is a sign that your body doesn’t like the movement, but a slight stiffness, soreness, or discomfort is normal and means the stretch is working. 

  • Stand somewhere you can extend your arms all around you. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and feel your feet firmly on the ground, this will help stabilize you. Extend your arms from your side, making a T shape. Move your arms in a big circle, about a foot across, for two to three minutes until it stops feeling good. Repeat for the same amount of time in the opposite direction.

  • Stand tall, with your feet about hip-width apart. Lift your shoulders up towards your ears and roll them back simultaneously. Please continue with the motion, rolling your shoulders in a circle until they are back up by your ears. Repeat this circular motion for a couple of minutes. You should feel your shoulders loosening up. Do the same motion, making circles in the opposite direction. Lift your shoulders to your ears and roll them forward and then around up your back to your ears. Rotate your shoulders backward and forward for the same amount of time.

  • With one arm down at your side, extend the other arm straight out from your body from your side in a half T shape. Bring your extended arm straight across your body, so it is moving towards your clavicle or collar bones. Bend your other arm up, so your hand or forearm crosses your extended arm at the forearm, close to the elbow. Bend your bent arm to move your extended arm closer to your body. You should feel a stretch between your spine and the shoulder blade in your upper back. Hold and release pressure for a minute or two, and repeat for the same length of time on each side. 

Home Remedies to Relieve Shoulder Pain

Here are some home remedies to relieve shoulder pain that you may find helpful. Try some of these first, along with the stretches, before going to your doctor. We’ll discuss when to talk to your doctor in another section. 

  • NSAIDs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are medications like ibuprofen that can ease your pain by fighting off the inflammation in your shoulder. These only offer temporary relief and don’t address any root causes of your shoulder pain, such as tight muscles from overwork, repetitive motions, or tension in other parts of your body. 

  • Ice

Ice also offers temporary relief from shoulder pain and can be used to reduce any swelling or inflammation. Soft gel ice packs are a good choice, or you can add ice to a plastic bag, which will also conform to your shoulder. Hard ice packs can be used too, but they tend to work best on flat areas of the body. Always wrap your ice pack in a cloth to keep your skin safe and apply for no more than 20 minutes several times a day. If you were just injured, always use ice asap and avoid heat.

  • Epsom salts

Epsom salts are a commonly used home remedy for pain and muscular discomfort. They contain magnesium which relaxes muscles and reduces swelling. Add to a warm or hot bath and soak for 15 minutes. You can also use a solution of Epsom salts and water to soak a washcloth and put it on your shoulder to apply as a compress.

  • Heat

Heat can be an effective way to relieve pain when used correctly. Heat should never be applied to injuries since it can increase swelling. However, heat therapy can ease stiff joints and soreness if your pain is not related to a recent injury. Use a heating pad or heating gel packs for 15-20 minutes on your hurting shoulder.

  • Rest

If possible, rest if your shoulder is in pain. This will give your body the opportunity to heal and prevent further irritation. If it’s not possible, try to take small breaks throughout your day. Resting after activity and using ice and heat when applicable is a good combination. 

  • Activity modification

Change your lifestyle around while your shoulder is in pain as much as possible to grant relief. For example, using an ergonomic office chair that supports your posture will help. Also, avoid extra strain on your shoulder from activities like carrying heavy items. 

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

  • Fractures

Fractures are tiny, hairline breaks in a bone, and can be a cause of shoulder pain.

  • Tissue Inflammation or tears

Tissue inflammation could be from an injury, overwork, or repetitive motions.

  • Ligament Instability

With ligament instability, your shoulder ligaments are unstable, causing pain.

  • Arthritis

Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that attacks the joints.

  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Shoulder impingement syndrome is a common cause of shoulder pain. 

When to See a Doctor About Shoulder Pain

While some shoulder pain can be resolved at home or with time, there may come a time when you should seek medical attention. Here’s when to go see a doctor about your shoulder pain. 

  • Any injury that deforms a joint.

  • When you can’t use your arm.

  • If you can’t raise your arm.

  • Experiencing shoulder pain while sleeping or resting.

  • Pain that lasts for more than a few days.

  • If any sign of infection occurs: fever, red skin, and heat around the joint.

  • Swelling or serious bruising around your arm and shoulder joint.

  • Pain in your abdomen or other places in your body that you can’t explain; it could be referred pain. 

Self-Treatment for Shoulder Pain with YouMari

YouMari is a revolutionary self-treatment tool that guides you through a detailed assessment of your issue and customizes a self-treatment plan. YouMari’s self-treatment plan includes exercises, stretches, and self-massage techniques that a physical therapist might give you to do at home. Skip the physical therapist for now and try YouMari. You’ll get support through a customized calendar, equipment lists, and more. Resolve your shoulder pain and more with a bit of help from YouMari!