What can I do About Shoulder Inflammation?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2019
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There are a few things a person can do to treat shoulder inflammation at home. He may start with using medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, to relieve pain and reduce the inflammation. He may also rest the shoulder and apply ice to the area. Once the patient is feeling better, he may even use shoulder exercises to strengthen the area and make it easier to move without stiffness and discomfort. If treating shoulder inflammation at home doesn't provide significant relief, medical treatment may be necessary.

Generally, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) provide effective pain relief for those dealing with shoulder inflammation. Ibuprofen and naproxen are among the medications in this category. These drugs are well known for their ability to not only treat pain, but also reduce inflammation. Aspirin is another over-the-counter medication that reduces both pain and inflammation. For those who do not experience significant pain relief from over-the-counter medicines, a trip to a doctor’s office may yield stronger, prescription pain relievers.


It’s usually important to rest the area when dealing with shoulder inflammation. Doing this may be as simple as avoiding things that cause discomfort. For example, a person who is dealing with shoulder inflammation may avoid reaching over his head to grab things, lifting and carrying heavy objects, or trying to grab items by reaching far out to the side or rear of his body. If the patient is active in sports or has a very physical job, he’ll likely have to temporarily stop activities that strain the shoulder. In some cases, keeping the shoulder immobile may help as well.

Applying ice may also help to treat shoulder inflammation by reducing the swelling associated with this condition. A patient may apply an ice pack to the area and keep it on for about 15 minutes. Using ice to massage the area may help as well. In some cases, it may help to repeat the ice application frequently, waiting 45 minutes to one hour between each application.

Shoulder exercises can be helpful for treating inflammation and injuries that affect the shoulder, as long as the patient has rested the shoulder long enough to avoid further injury. It’s wise, however, to seek a doctor’s advice before beginning any exercise, especially for first-time injuries or conditions that involve severe pain and swelling. With a doctor’s approval, a patient may start by stretching his shoulder and then begin simple exercises, such as the pendulum swing. To perform this exercise, a person should stand and lean forward, bending a little at the waist, letting one arm hang down. He’ll then swing his arm back and forth, swinging it in small and then gradually larger circles.


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