Millions of Americans suffer from shoulder pain each year. Here are a few tips on how to treat it.
- - Why shoulder pain is so common
- - Available treatments
- - Talking to your doctor
The shoulder may be the most movable joint in the body, but it’s also one of the most unstable. As a result, many people come to experience pain in that area. When you start to experience shoulder pain, managing it before it gets any worse should be a priority.
The Basics of Shoulder Pain
The reason so many people experience pain in their shoulders is the design of the joint itself. The shoulder joint is highly dependent on the surrounding muscles and ligaments to hold it in place. As a result, sprains, strains, dislocations, separations, tendinitis, torn rotator cuffs, fractures and arthritis are common — but they’re also treatable.
Shoulder pain rarely requires surgery, and there are several simple treatments that work extremely well at managing the pain. Here are just a few:
Rest and elevation — Taking it easy will often allow the joint to heal, while keeping the injured joint elevated at a level higher than the heart can reduce swelling.
Ice and compression — Compressing the area with bandages, in addition to applying ice 3 to 4 times a day for 10 minutes at a time, can keep swelling to a minimum.
Exercises and stretching — Your doctor or physical therapist can help you develop an exercise program. It will likely include stretching, strengthening, range of motion and aerobic exercises.
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Talking to your Doctor
It's important to have an open discussion with your healthcare professional about shoulder pain. Here are some things you may ask:
- Can you tell me exactly what’s causing this pain?
- How long can I expect this pain to last?
- How will treatment of my shoulder pain affect other medications I may be taking?
- Can you recommend a physical therapist or alternative treatment provider that can help?
- What exercises can I do to help relieve my pain and strengthen my shoulder?
Use RICE to Treat
If you injure your shoulder, try treating it with RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. If the pain persists, visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
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