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What Are the Different Types of Shoulder Pain Management?

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  • Written By: Dan Harkins
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2016
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Shoulder pain could be caused by any number of ailments, from tendon, bone or cartilage damage to cancer, arthritis or a heart attack. Regardless of the cause, doctors have several options for offering shoulder pain management while the deeper cause of the problem is treated. These recommendations could be simple like rest, immobility and prescription or over-the-counter medication. They might also extend into preventative solutions like physical therapy, exercise, herbal supplements, chiropractics, massage and, if deemed necessary, a surgical procedure to neutralize the pain at the source.

The Mayo Clinic advises people who want to avoid a doctor visit to use anti-inflammatory medication for shoulder pain management. It also recommends a non-strenuous regimen to avoid straining the shoulder as well as the application of an ice pack at least twice daily. It is time to see a doctor, however, if redness, heat, disfigurement, severe pain or swelling occurs at the shoulder, indicating a possible internal rupture.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) approaches shoulder pain management in three facets: lifestyle alteration, medication and surgical intervention. Lifestyle changes can incorporate several alterations to a person's routine to create the proper environment for shoulder pain management. Beyond immobilizing the joint to with a sling or splint, a doctor will frequently advise a patient to rest and refrain from physical activity.

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Medications might involve over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or acetomenophen or more potent prescription offerings like Vicodin®, Oxycontin® or Percocet®. Many also recommend a regimen of physical therapy aimed at restoring vitality to the shoulder. Sometimes surgery cannot be avoided, however, if the patient wants certain injuries to properly heal and for the source of the pain to be eradicated.

Beyond these standard responses, many people seek out other methods to contain shoulder pain and restore quality of life. This may involve massage techniques, acupuncture or chiropractic realignment. Those with shoulder pain stemming from conditions like arthritis often take supplements proven to improve joint pain, with ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, ginger and even green tea. WebMD maintains an online list of supplements for improving joint pain.

Most shoulder pain is created by a handful of usual suspects. Tendon damage, inflammation caused by a condition like tendinitis, arthritis or a broken bone are most commonly seen by doctors, according to the AAOS. After confirmation of the specific cause of the pain, either through examination or x-ray imagery, shoulder pain management can begin in any number of ways.

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