Your shoulder has the greatest range of motion of all the joints in your body. This makes it susceptible to injury and overuse.
Think about it: You use your shoulder for nearly all upper body movement — every time you get dressed, reach into a cabinet, pull a weed or swing a pickleball racket. No wonder shoulder pain affects between 18-26% of adults.
Many problems can cause shoulder pain: arthritis, tendinitis, bursitis, a tendon tear or a broken bone. So, it’s important to see a doctor to get the right diagnosis.
“Sometimes it just takes rest and time to get better,” says Mark Schrumpf, MD, an orthopedist in the Sutter Health network in San Francisco. For tendinitis and bursitis, many people take anti-inflammatory medicines from the drugstore, alternate ice and heat packs, and avoid lifting heavy things. “Resting for a few weeks often clears up the problem,” he says.
But for people with arthritis in their shoulder — an increasingly common problem as you get older — the pain usually doesn’t go away. Sometimes you can manage this shoulder pain on your own at home. Eventually, you and your doctor may discuss other medical options such as steroid injections or surgery.
Here are steps you can take to manage shoulder pain at home, and effective treatments when you can no longer ease shoulder pain on your own.