9 things you can do to treat your shoulder pain without needing to see the doctor.
On this episode I discuss the nine things that you can do if you have shoulder pain without needing to see the
Shoulder pain can be tremendously limiting to your life in that it can cause reduction in your ability to work exercise and do
other activities that make your life enjoyable. I’ve spoken in a prior video about what is going on within the shoulder when you have that sort of pain. Today’s episode is about what you can do to help yourself when you have shoulder pain so that you
can get better and actually avoid needing to see a physician at the same time.
Disclaimer alert, for the vast majority of you who are either watching or listening to this content I am likely not your treating physician. Some software algorithm has deemed it appropriate for us to be communicating together and I am certainly a physician that has information that is useful to you in terms of understanding your shoulder pain as well as how to treat it in a low-risk non-surgical manner. But disclaimer to my thoughts if you’ve had a severe injury, if you’re not getting better with very conservative management only, if your symptoms are progressively getting worse, if you have significant neurologic symptoms like weakness numbness or tingling, or if you’re just concerned that your pain is not progressing in the way that it should,
please get checked out by your actual physician.
So there are a number of things that you can do on your own to self treat your pain if you’ve had a shoulder injury. Some of these may seem really obvious some of these you may not considered before. I would recommend all of them as conservative low risk first-line options to see if you can manage your shoulder pain before having to see an actual physician. Number one is
stop or modify the activity that is actually causing your shoulder pain. This may sound really obvious but the reality is that there are certain activities work-related that may be hard to stop or completely modify if they’re essential to what you’re doing but if
you’re able to change or stop that activity then I would strongly recommend doing so to at least initially stop the pain while you then try to do other things to then rehabilitate the shoulder into a better position.
Option number two is to correct any technique that can be improved with your activity. For example I played tennis when I was a teenager I then stopped as a young adult but then picked it up again in my mid to late 30s. When I started playing tennis again I started to develop pain in my shoulder when I was serving and hitting overheads. My solution at that time was I worked with a physical therapist and a tennis coach did a lot of videotaping of my serve and overhead activity adjusted and modified and improved my technique and that’s made a humongous difference in my ability to continue to do overhead activities with my right shoulder and continue to play tennis as well. So modifying activity is a really important one but even improving your technique is even one step higher.
Bad posture can put a lot of stress on your neck your upper back and your shoulders on the other hand improving your posture can take a lot of stress off of those areas including your shoulder. If your posture is something that could use some improvement I’d strongly recommend working with a clinic like Egoscue that focuses on posture correction technique exercises.
Option number four is to work with a good physical therapist who can help with strengthening the muscles around your shoulder. Strengthening the muscles of the upper back the neck area and around the shoulder makes a big difference strengthening those tissues helps with stability which in turn helps with function range of motion as well as pain as well. Great first line option as well is strengthening all those muscles.
Number five is maximizing the range of motion in your shoulders normal shoulder health includes having a very full and wide range of motion in the shoulder. Anything that you can do either via active range of motion exercises or passive range of motion exercises with a trainer or physio is helpful that can include exercises that they help you out with can even include some hanging exercises but anything that lets you maintain a full range of motion in the shoulder is essential for normal and optimal musculoskeletal health of the shoulder.
Number six is manual therapy that can include massage chiropractic and similar techniques. Anything that helps to relieve the stress on the muscles and myofascial tissues around the shoulder and the neck will help with your shoulder as well. Taking stress off of those tissue planes will help with pain around the shoulder improve range of motion and improve the biomechanics of the shoulder as well.
Option seven are other complementary therapies including acupuncture and dry needling. These techniques can help with myofascial pain as well these are another great low-risk helpful modalities that can help with pain and shoulder health.
Number eight is heat versus ice or thermal therapies.It’s a good adjunctive treatments and should be used in a focused and appropriate fashion. So heat can help in terms of muscle and myofacial pain. Ice or cold therapy or cryotherapy can help with inflammation. It’s important however to be careful with how you’re using cryotherapy or cold therapy. Controlling excessive inflammation is good in particular if you’re talking about chronic inflammation. It’s important to understand that acute inflammation in the setting of a recent injury to some degree is helpful and is required to kick-start the normal healing process. So I think focused cryotherapy and even focused heat can have a benefit long-term as well if it’s used appropriately.
And number nine are certain over-the-counter supplements. The three big ones that I recommend are glucosamine chondroitin, omega-3, and turmeric supplements. Glucosamine chondroitin can help with pain related to osteoarthritis. I think that’s a good option for a lot of people that have musculoskeletal issues. Omega-3 which comes from either fish oil or flaxseed oil supplements and turmeric can help with inflammation and related pain. I think those are definitely preferable to using chronic anti-inflammatory medications or chronic narcotic pain medications and I think those three over-the-counter supplements are helpful for the vast majority of people that have various musculoskeletal conditions as well.
So to sum it up there are quite a few different things that you can do on your own to help yourself if you have shoulder pain and they may allow you to avoid additional medical or surgical intervention. In a follow-up video I will discuss when you actually should see your physician for your shoulder pain, what treatment options may be available to you at that point, including what regenerative medicine treatment options may be helpful to help deal with your shoulder issue.
So question of the day- if you’ve had shoulder pain what have you done to self treat that’s made a difference for your own health.
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Thanks for your time, have a good day, and live well.