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How Do I Treat Shoulder Muscle Pain?

Identifying the cause of a painful shoulder is the first step in treating it.
A doctor may recommend physical therapy to a patient suffering from shoulder pain.
An anatomical illustration showing many muscles in the upper body and shoulder.
Article Details
  • Written By: Klaus Strasser
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 25 June 2014
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The proper treatment of shoulder muscle pain usually depends upon the type of pain and the possible cause. Physical exercise or rest can often alleviate the pain, but this may not always work. An appointment with a medical professional will let him or her be able to diagnose your exact ailment and propose the best means of resolving it.

Shoulder muscle pain can be the result of physical activities, such as the excessive use of an already weak muscle. There are also cases where such pain is indicative of a genetic condition. Some medical professionals link it to emotional problems, rendering its potential treatment derivative of psychological methods.

The shoulder muscle is in reality a deltoid muscle that is located around the shoulder bones. A deltoid muscle consists of three parts: the front, rear, and middle head. Depending on the type of pain, one or more of these parts may be affected. You may be unable to raise your arm or carry objects, the arm might swell, or you could have pain that occurs either at night or while resting. If the discomfort lasts longer than three days, this generally is regarded as a good time to go see a medical professional.

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Many treatments can be undertaken on your own or in conjunction with a healthcare professional. It's often best to rest your shoulder muscle and avoid strenuous activities, which will let any possible inflammation of the shoulder muscle potentially heal. Over-resting the shoulder muscle also can cause problems, however, including frozen shoulder, which can be indicative of a damaged shoulder joint. Stretching and other physical exercises may also help the shoulder muscle strengthen. In these cases, it is usually best that you perform your exercises in a routine fashion, so that the treatment of the shoulder muscle is constant and uniform.

Pharmacological solutions to shoulder muscle pain are also an option. This type of treatment usually requires that you visit a medical professional. Anti-inflammatory medication can help any swelling go down, as can cortisone shots, which serve as a very powerful medication against inflammation. Ice and heat treatments of the shoulder are common treatments, but their success is relative to the type of shoulder muscle injury you may have.

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Discuss this Article

anon345324
Post 3

Magnesium is the muscle mineral. Take it as directed and be sure to take potassium and calcium as well. All three minerals work together to give muscles what they need for proper function. Rub magnesium gel on the soar muscle, take a bath with epsom salt (magnesium). Remember, the heart is the biggest muscle.

rugbygirl
Post 2

@MissDaphne - Does it hurt worse after you exercise? That would suggest that it gets inflamed, and ice is generally helpful for inflammation. I have an older muscle pain that I still put the frozen peas on sometimes after a long workout or a lot of walking (it's a leg pain) and it still seems to help.

That said, are you SURE it's muscle pain? My husband thought he had a sore muscle in his shoulder and actually started physical therapy. In the meantime, an orthopedist had ordered an MRI. Turns out he has a torn labrum, a cartilage tear, and no amount of physical therapy or anything else short of surgery is going to fix it. A bummer, but better to know and not waste time and money on treatments that won't work.

MissDaphne
Post 1

I have muscle pain in my shoulder that's been nagging me for a while. How do I know whether I should try to treat it with heat or with ice? It's "old," so I guess ice isn't supposed to to help, but heat sure doesn't.

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